Apple has recently released a Mac update for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion that removes its Java plugin from all OS X browsers. If you install the update, you’ll find a region labeled “Missing plug-in” in place of a Java applet; of course, Apple can’t stop you from clicking on it to download a Java plug-in directly from Oracle. The Cupertino-based company had previously halted pre-installing Java in OS X partially due to the exploitable factors of the platform, so this update signifies further distancing from Larry Ellison’s pride and joy.
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A lot has changed since early 2001. We’ve got a new president approaching the end of his first term, the US has embarked on two major wars and the words “Lady Gaga” have become much more than just gibberish. Some things, however, don’t change. In nearly each of these intervening years, Apple has issued a major update to its desktop operating system, OS X. This time last year, the company issued OS 10.7 Lion, a king-of-the-jungle moniker many thought would mark the end of Apple’s big cat naming scheme and, by extension, the OS X lineage. In February, however, the old operating system showed she still had some life left in her, when the next edition was revealed, arriving over the summer and called Mountain Lion.
Based on the name alone, you’d think 10.8 would be a modest improvement over its predecessor — not unlike the baby step between Leopard (10.5) and Snow Leopard (10.6). But Apple insists that this latest build is more than just a seasonal refresh — in all, it boasts more than 200 new features. Some are major, including things like a new Notification Center, AirPlay Mirroring and a desktop version of Messages. Others, such as full-screen mode for Notes… not so much. What seems to unite the vast majority of the 200 features, however, is a nod to iOS. So, how easily can Mac users justify that $20 download? Follow along after the break, as we put those 200 features to the test.
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You can bid farewell to the days of Apple’s theatrical OS reveals — at least until OS 11 rears its head, anyway. In the meantime, the outfit has seemingly been content to strip away more and more pomp and circumstance with every subsequent big cat release. Lately, the company has settled into an evolutionary release schedule, eschewing full-fledged makeovers in favor of packing in lots of smaller changes, many of them quite granular indeed. It’s a trend that can be traced as far back as 2009′s OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), a name designed to drive home the point that the upgrade wasn’t so much a reinvention of the wheel as a fine tuning of its predecessor, Leopard.
The arrival of Lion (10.7), though, marked a full upgrade. With features like Launchpad and Mission Control, it seemed like it might be the last version Cupertino dropped before finally pulling the trigger on operating system number 11, and perhaps transitioning to something with an even stronger iOS influence. Right now, at least, the company’s not ready to close the book on chapter X, but it is giving the world a first peek at 10.8. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mountain Lion.
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Never one to shy away from dramatic hyperbole, Steve Jobs declared ours a “post-PC world” about this time last year, acknowledging a move away from personal computers as smartphones and tablets become even more ubiquitous. And while Jobs might happily look on as iPhones and iPads become our primarily tie to the outside world, the question remains: what happens to the PC during this grand transition? To a large extent, the answer lies in the OS, which brings us to OS X Lion. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to post-PC computing.
In typically grandiose fashion, the company has declared OS X 10.7 “the world’s most advanced desktop operating system,” touting the addition of over 250 new features. The list is pretty uneven on the game-changing scale, with updates running the gamut from Airdrop (file-sharing over WiFi) to a full-screen version of the bundled chess game. If there’s one thing tying it all together, though, it’s something that Jobs touched on when he first unveiled the OS back in October: the unmistakable influence of iOS. Now it’s true, we already got a taste of that with gesture-based trackpads and the Mac App Store, but those were merely glimpses of things to come. Apple borrows so heavily from iOS that at times, cycling through features makes the whole thing feel like you’re merely operating an iPad with a keyboard attached.
There are plenty of welcome additions here, including aesthetic tweaks and attention to mounting privacy concerns. Like Snow Leopardbefore it, however, Lion is hardly an explosive upgrade. And like Snow Leopard, it comes in at a reasonable $29 (or a decidedly more pricey $69 as an upcoming flash drive install), making it a worthy upgrade for current Mac owners. But does a boatload of evolutionary features add up to a revolutionary upgrade? Let’s find out.