Apple's best new tricks in the new Mountain Lion OS

Mountain Lion, the ninth iteration of the Apple desktop operating system, arrives today. 

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    Mountain Lion, the new operating system from Apple, launches today. Here, Mountain Lion is shown on a MacBook Air.
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Busy week for Apple: more rumors of a new iPhone, gossip about a new iPod, the less-than-impressive Q3 showing, and the launch of its ninth Mac OS X iteration. Mountain Lion was first announced back in June, at WWDC. It boasts a reported 200 new features, including the brand new Messages app and a malware net called Gatekeeper. 

It's probably most useful to think of Mountain Lion like Windows 8, the forthcoming OS from Microsoft. Both operating systems steal liberally from the mobile OS ecosystem – Windows 8 with its tiles and touch-friendly interface and Mountain Lion with its iOS-like Game Center and Notification Center and Messages. Mountain Lion launches today – you can download it through the Mac App Store. So how does it stack up?

Pretty well, generally speaking, although some critics have been quick to point that Mountain Lion isn't exactly an overhaul.

Recommended: 40 iPhone tips and tricks everyone should know

It's more of a slight nudge upward. 

"In a nutshell, OS X 10.8 is a generous helping of iOS-friendly syncing apps and services, with a sidebar of unfortunately poor Messages and a grab bag of 'most wanted' features and tweaks to Lion," writes Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web, in an exhaustive 17-page review. "It's absolutely worth the $20 price tag to upgrade, as there is more good here than bad, and that's super cheap."

Perhaps the biggest change to Mountain Lion is Messages, which replaces iChat and allows users to communicate with buddies across a range of platforms. So texts, emails, and chat and Twitter messages will all collect in a single manageable interface. It's an intuitive and much welcome feature, writes Brian Heater of Engadget

"Integration here means you're able to communicate directly with anyone who has an iOS device," Heater writes. "Thankfully, however, it's not just a closed Apple system; services that had been supported by iChat – AIM, Google Talk, Jabber, and Yahoo – are included here, too."

Over at the Guardian, Amanda Holpuch has reported that some folks are having trouble accessing Mountain Lion – "Error 100" messages and incomplete downloads have plagued a few people. But Holpuch has helpfully pointed users to this FAQ. Managed to get Mountain Lion up and running? Problems of your own to report? Drop us a line in the comments section. 

For more on how technology intersects daily life, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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