OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion could be Apple’s last desktop OS

“Let’s think about Mountain Lion and the company’s readiness to disrupt its own business models and consider this: ‘Will Mountain Lion be one of the last desktop operating systems Apple ships?’ In a sense, I think it will. That’s because I believe operating systems are heading inexorably into the cloud,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Looking at the access logs of people reading this blog here on Computerworld, it’s becoming clear that an ever-increasing number of readers like to use their iPad to read what’s here.,” Evans writes. “We all know what an iPad is, but what is its nature? I see it as a device hosting a slimline mobile operating system that, while capable of performing numerous tasks offline truly comes into its own when accessing the Internet. In other words, it’s a mobile device custom-built for use with all the information, software and services held up there in the cloud.”

Evans writes, “In future your computer (Mac or PC) will be more like this. It will carry a slimline OS in order to remain capable of doing many things offline, but will truly come into its own when accessing the information, software and services held online… This might be years out, but the opportunity is tangible. Surely it is evident that this change is going on. It’s only a question of time I feel until a combination of operating system virtualization, personal data storage and sync, and software-as-service models mean the desktop operating system will be something you access online.”

Read more in the full article here.

55 Comments

    1. Astute observation. I submit that just as during the “energy crisis” of the 70s while Carter was in office, the bandwidth providers have a strangle hold over the Internet. They in effect have a bandwidth cartel. AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, et.al. are going to show you who owns the Internet in the not too distant future, just as OPEC showed us who was really in charge of our transportation system. We were under the illusion that it was the automobile industry. Now we have an OPEC of bandwidth, just waiting to have us line up again to pay through the nose for a resource we can no longer live without.

      1. Good try at still another unnecessary politicization of this forum, TheIonious Mac, but as usual, you are wrong (and annoying). Gas rationing of the 1970s took place during the presidency of Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon (11/27/73 – he signs the petroleum allocation act). Rationing was contemplated during the 1979 oil crisis, but was not implemented by Carter. Thanks for playing.

        1. Tell me, Ralph, have we yet to dispose of the zillion gas rationing coupons President Jimbo’s administration printed up (and stored in bunkers in Pueblo, Colorado)? Funny thing about them: They looked so much like US currency, they actually worked in bill changing machines. Brilliant, eh? Yep I’m with you: Nixon, Carter, Obama = The Holy Triumvirate of US economics.

      1. The article is one big contradiction. If, according to the author, this transition might be years out, then OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion will *not* be the last Apple desktop OS in *any* sense. And that is even if you believe the author’s speculation in the first place.

        Computerworld is not the best source for prognostication on Apple developments, although it is a big step up from GCN.

    1. While I can see the direction the author sees, I disagree. I read the article on my iPad as he suggested. Then I got out of bed, walked over to my DESK, fired up the MacBook Pro to the left, started certain tasks on it, fired up the 27″ iMac in the center, and finally the 2nd MacBook Pro on the right. I’ve got all kinds of crazy crap people need done today. Some involve shell scripting, others involve AppleScript, some involve FileMaker, some involve OS X Server, one needs me to boot one MacBook Pro under Ubuntu, one under Windows 7, bring up server on my MacMini (normally my media server), and make sure all these guys are gonna talk to each other just fine, at least in a simple network, for a client. Around 6 tonight, I’ll shift gears, maybe work on my own little iOS app project, among other things.

      I don’t see the desktop OS going away, not for a while. In addition, my marriage to my desktop OS HEAVILY influences my decisions on my mobile devices. I don’t use iOS just because, I use it because I was influenced by Apple in which direction to take, and that it works “seamlessly” with my primary desktop OS.

      That being said, it is a matter of time though. The emergence and evolution of the cloud will continuously take over my desktop and server needs. This will happen for my clients as well. Some are still leery of the cloud, but as I demonstrate the freedom from a specific location and the ability to complete work anytime, anywhere, they are beginning to come around. Give it about 10 years.

      We are not in the Post PC era. We are in the Post – Windows era. Windows isn’t going away, it just isn’t the be all end all of all IT anymore. We have choices. Compatibility with Windows is becoming irrelevant. Browser compatibility with open standards is much more important. If your company “info-structure” is based on cloud based tools, you don’t care if your employees are on iPads, Androids, Surface, or what the heck ever.

      Consequently, thin is in. There’s a surge in interest not only in things like iPads, but tiny little boxes, about the size of an AppleTV, that connect you to your corporate or public cloud and that’s your computer of the future. Few people will actually need something even as powerful as a laptop.

      1. … with TM. But I am. I’m another one of those guys who remembers when mainframes WERE “computers”. Then came the earliest “mini-computers”, followed not that long afterwards by “micro-computers” (desktops), with the prediction of the impending demise of the mainframe, then smart phones and tablets – and the (see above) prediction of the impending demise of the desktops.
        Yet, somehow they all continue to work together.
        There are more mainframes now than there were 20 years ago. And they are more powerful. Though not as powerful as the super-computers, of which there are now more than there were a decade ago. Maybe tablets will reduce the number of laptops – I expect they will – and maybe there will be fewer desktops – I doubt it – but the many millions of tablets we can see on the horizon are more likely to nibble at the edges rather than destroy.
        Just yesterday, I tried to find a file on my Mac Pro. Wasn’t easy. Icons didn’t do it. So I broke out Terminal and flexed my aching brain – it’s been a while since I last used Unix – but I found it! And managed to READ it! Now … who can do that on an iPad?

        1. On the iPad you’d use the spotlight search field which is located on the leftmost home page. On the Mac, same thing, except it’s in the upper right corner of the screen.

          1. … it did not.
            The Find function could not “see” it, and the direct “directory” function could not. Yet, the program claimed to be writing to it at a specific location.
            The LS command, once I’d drilled down to the correct directory, saw it easily. And CAT displayed it.

    2. I remember the good old client server days. A mainframe that had it’s own air conditioned room and dumb terminals with green text on a black screen. Those were the days lol.

      When the network mysteriously went down at half past three on a nice day we all got to go home coz nobody could access any programs or files.

      I think the answer lies in a hybrid system somewhere between the two. Bit like how Dropbox works. Programs and files stored locally but mirrored in the cloud so you never need to update your programs or backup your files and you can always access files remotely via the web if your away from your computer or if disaster strikes.

      1. Disasters don’t happen that often, and people will have contingency plans in place, both on the cloud service side and the end user side.

        My dropbox is backed up by Google Drive and Spider Oak. Anyone goes down, my files are on the others.

        The technology now is more sophisticated. The bandwidth far greater than the old mainframe days. No one has a mainframe in the cloud. There are rooms and room filled with blade servers, massive redundancy.

    1. Putting on my tinfoil hat :
      That would explain why an iPad engineer will lead the hardware department. No more Macs (maybe some generations of Retina MacBooks. Maybe). Only iPads.

      /paranoia mode off

  1. when this virtualization nonsense is cheaper i’ll look into it. as it is now i can buy a macbook for $1100 or a PC laptop for $500 or less with plenty of storage.

    paying for this stuff on the internet is going to cost a lot more. the whole cloud thing is a scam to tie you into low and perpetual monthly payments

    1. I could not agree more. I loathe the day when I can no longer launch a program I purchased and which resides on my hard drive and I am not “renting” month to month.

      Cloud based subscription based apps are going to turn computing into what many have discovered in the credit card industry…. paying the minimums every month gets you nowhere and always in debt.

    1. … NOT a “desktop OS”. And not an OS with the capabilities of a desktop OS.
      Not to deride iOS, it does what tablet users need to do, AND much of what they WANT to do, just fine. But they are not desktop users. Or, if they are, they ALSO have a desktop.

  2. Who is the stupid dick writing this article? There’s a snowball’s chance in hell that Apple will abandon Mac OS X in its present form and substitute that with iOS. Only a nut who does no real work besides reading monologues on the web will think for one moment that iOS is in any way, shape or form ready to take over the duties of OS X for heavy duty work.

    1. I would agree with you that Jonny Evans is less than smart; he write the most inane, poorly written articles I’ve read. But he’s not insulting or mean-spirited; he’s not a stupid dick. No, a stupid dick is someone with diminished mental ability who pushes his malformed ideas on other people while crudely calling them names, and blusterouly insulting them. Do I really need to point out who that describes? Every time you comment here you remind me of Sheriff Andy on True Blood.

    2. right you are Mr Left Nut.
      your right nut agrees.

      but i suppose those folk who think Apple abandoned the Mac Pro desktop, are those who depressingly believe Apple will also abandon the Mac OS. us Pros, even iMac users, are maybe shrinking into a minority, but as you say, come on people, iPads are for creating work as well as viewing, but the creation side is infantile compared to what’s possible on the desktops or laptops.

      1. Adobe’s CS6 in the Cloud launched this summer and is a good example of ridding the Desktop OS as the only production solution vs mere mobile consumption devices.

        fine.
        however, it’s only 1 software. there’s 99% of software to be ported. that will take years. not to mention cloud production is very slow compared to pro users who need the desktop’s processing power and whose work does not depend on online bandwidth – what if the website is down, you couldn’t work! electricity cuts are rarer than down servers. so it’s more practical to keep desktop computing.

        it is shortsighted as Mr Thelonious says, to not see all going online, but that’s future talk! then, what about the internet bandwidth?! there’s no way it can take the whole 32% of the world population working online! then, look at our u.s. infrastructure: it’s the worst in the Western world, and we’re too economically in debt to pay for increasing its capacity, plus our government is too stingy and small-minded to know what to do anymore to solve anything, as they act purely in fear, in greed and see government as a capitalist entity and not a societal responsibility.

        1. I have to agree with this. We are not even close to ready to move 100% into the Cloud. And for how long it could take, more likely a measure of decades than years–mainly for the reasons you state above–there is no justification in the assertion that 10.8 will be the last Mac desktop OS. Apple could never be that stupid.

          I have to believe Apple has a roadmap for their OS releases that spans far into the future. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to strip out the complexity without continuing to undermine the power of the desktop OS.

        2. Certainly, Adobe is in the forefront releasing productivity software working on iDevices.

          Echo concerns others raised regarding data caps and associated consumer costs in the cloud.

          Apple store employee: Can I help you? I’ll take an iPad 3 and 1TB of cloud storage. Credit or debit?

          Like buying a new computer, one time expense. Need more storage? Upgrade wirelessly as needed without selling or buying a new computer.

  3. Stoopid. The Mac & PC desktop OS’s will continue for years and years to come. Small displays are not exactly conducive to working in graphics, large spreadsheets, and so many other tasks. Mobile is nice (and I use it plenty) but doesn’t supplant everything though certainly accents nicely. Mostly it means I’m not chained to a desktop to do simpler things and more importantly do it while I’m in bed. I still need my Mac Trucks!

  4. Okay, let the flame responses begin…

    I would not see this as a good idea for the same reason I saw the rumors of a move to eliminate HDDs as a bad move – it may work fine for content consumption, but not for content creation. Sure, you’ve got Pages and Numbers and Keynote that can run on an iPad, and you’ve got iPad and GarageBand, but when it comes to bandwidth heavy applications, say Logic, ProTools, Final Cut, Maya, Blender, Photoshop, Illustrator, I could go on, the cloud really doesn’t cut it. There’s a reason those of us who were clamoring for internal storage were clamoring for it – because it just works better for those bandwidth heavy applications.

    And a cloud based application only works when you have internet access. Which, yes, I know someone’s going to come and say that wi-fi is becoming more and more prevalent every day, but it’s still not to the point where the wi-fi infrastructure can handle exclusive cloud usage. I live in New York City. I can’t access wi-fi on my lunch break, because there’s no wi-fi signal accessible from within my office building. But I can still use my MacBook Pro, because I use applications that work just fine offline. I can use my laptop on the subway, again, because I can use my applications offline. Hell, I can even use my applications on the Staten Island Ferry, because I can use it offline.

    And I know there will be someone who will throw out the repeated “adapt or die” mantra, but this is even beyond the HDD/SSD or optical drive debate we were just having up until the retina MBPs were released where we were talking about individual adaptation. To abandon the Mac OS entirely and move exclusively to cloud based computing would require infrastructural adaptation. And how do you propose to make that happen?

    Cloud based computing right now is like SSDs – has its advantages, has its proponents, but not to the point yet where we can embrace it fully and leave the past behind.

    1. Many people think it won’t work for content creation, but that’s very short sighted. It’s not a matter of adapt or die, creative people will always be creative no matter where the “computer” is.

      Imagine if you will doing your work on a thin client, whether it’s heavy Photoshop work, or heavy video editing or what. You work on small version of your images and video on your iClient, but the heavy work is actually done in the cloud. All of your work is turned into some kind of edit history file locally, but then sent to the cloud periodically. You can then look at your completed work by viewing what the cloud has. You won’t need that big box next to you anymore.

      The changes that are coming are profound. Entire IT departments are going to vanish.

      It will be interesting to watch.

      1. As someone who does image editing for a living, I can tell you that having a HUGE display, and having previews of pending changes updated instantly and live while I manipulate sliders in a dialog box is absolutely critical. Even if the real OS were running six feet away on a server, rather than in the cloud, I couldn’t deal with that latency. I need to be able to see a whole image, all at once, in full resolution, and have any changes to it take place with no lag. That’s a huge demand even on a fast machine running a local OS.

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