OS X Mountain Lion: Did Apple play it safe?

“If someone accustomed to the first Macintosh in 1984 got into a time machine, traveled to 2012, and tried to work on a MacBook Air running Mountain Lion, that person would have a surprisingly short learning curve. Sure, the desktop is colorful, dimensional, and there are loads of unfamiliar features, at first glance. But the fundamentals of the point and click interface that Apple pioneered then are still very much still in place, and learning to use more than one app at a time will come soon enough,” Gene Steinberg writes for Tech Night Owl. “Contrast that to the layout in Windows 8, where Metro, on the surface at least, disposes of all the conventions that Windows users have grown accustomed to over the years, conventions that, as you realize, were largely ‘borrowed’ from the Mac.”

“Now I understand the desire to make things better. But what Microsoft has done may be close to building a car without a steering wheel, or brake and accelerator pedal. Sure, you can click, or touch the interface to prowl beneath Metro to see a slimmed down Windows-style interface, but all that does is make for a bi-polar experience, where you can become lost real quickly,” Steinberg writes. “It doesn’t mean that the traditional graphical user interface that has been tried and tested all these years is necessarily perfect. I’m sure many of you can build a large list of how OS X needs to change to improve usability, particularly for tens of millions of customers who discovered Apple by way of the iPhone and iPad. Certainly navigating the file system intimidates many. And it doesn’t mean there aren’t more elements of the iOS that can be integrated into OS X without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Steinberg writes, “But Apple understands that jarring changes with little or no discernible benefits can just confuse customers. They got justifiably attacked when making changes to the default scroll bar and scrolling behavior in Lion, which is carried over unchanged in Mountain Lion. But they also made it possible to open System Preferences and turn things back. Despite all the iOS elements that made their way into 10.8, it’s still a Mac OS, and, based on what Tim Cook has said in a very emphatic way, it isn’t going to be thrown away in place of a desktop version of iOS.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple, in contrast to Microsoft, has the right idea.

What we wrote ten seconds after we first heard about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 works just as well today as it did over a year ago, if not better:

Our initial impression is that Microsoft, in trying to cram everything into Windows 8 in an attempt to be all things to all devices, will end up with an OS that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none (which, after all, ought to be Microsoft’s company motto).

By the time this hybrid spawn of Windows Phone ’07 + Windows 7ista actually ships, one can only dream where Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X will be! For Microsoft, it’ll be more like a nightmare. Perhaps Microsoft will someday put some scare into Google’s Android/Chrome OS, but only time – and a lot of it when measured in tech time – will tell. We simply do not see the world clamoring for the UI of an iPod also-ran now ported to an iPhone wannabe that nobody’s buying to be blown up onto a PC display.

From what we’ve seen so far, Windows 8 strikes us as an unsavory combination of Windows Weight plus Windows Wait.

Not to mention that probably no one on earth knows how much or what kinds of residual legacy spaghetti code roils underneath it all (shudder). Is Microsoft giving up on backwards compatibility? If so, people might as well get the Mac they always wanted. If not, then Microsoft’s unwilling to do what it takes to really attempt to keep up with the likes of Apple or even Apple’s followers. No matter what, if Microsoft’s going to ask Windows sufferers to “learn a whole new computer” (and that’s exactly how they’ll look at it, regardless of how Microsoft pitches it), millions will simply say, “Time to get a Mac to match my iPod, iPhone, and iPad!”

As if they needed it: More good news for Apple.

Related articles:
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Microsoft’s Buffoon, er… Ballmer throws down gauntlet against Apple – July 10, 2012
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Jason Schwarz: Top 10 reasons why Microsoft’s Surface is DOA – June 22, 2012
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ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
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Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
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33 Comments

    1. They have a Addon now for RSS Feeds, go to Safari Addons and install it, it’s that easy.

      Also the Interface can be changed for Safari if you don’t like the new tabs, just do a search to get the instructions on how to change it back.

      1. Super!! I too, have a major problem with the loss of RSS support. I don’t have any web-links in my bookmarks, just RSS feeds. Hundreds of them!

        What is the name of this new add-on? I don’t want any of the Google-based things that appear to be everywhere.

        Up grading to Mountain Lion yesterday has caused a major (and I mean it in a bad way) productivity hit for me today.

        I can only hope Apple sees that RSS feeds are more important to people who want to skim news items to find the ones of interest. Safari in iOS has the exact same problem so, I won’t we upgrading to iOS 6 very quickly. I might do my iPhone but my 3 iPads will stay with Safari RSS support (even though it is less than complete).

    1. Let’s hope he goes further and pits two teams against each other. Maybe call them “Blue” and “Yellow” so that the “Pink” team will actually survive the infighting and produce a product.

  1. I think the loss of ‘Save As’ has to be my biggest gripe. The way documents are duplicated rather than saved in the manner that was intended by the user is not intuitive at best and downright stupid at worst.

    Natural scrolling is another damned fool feature that’s unneeded. I take great joy in undoing natural scrolling on every Mac displayed in an Apple store – every single Mac without exception – so as to reacquaint customers with the right way to scroll on the Mac.

    And what’s up with the loss of color? Is the world made up of monochrome objects? This is the stupidest thing ever. The greyness of it all – like a blighted landscape after a nuclear blast. Perhaps this is what Steve Jobs meant by going thermonuclear.

    1. Only thing stupid is you. Natural scrolling SEEMS counter intuitive…..till someone tells you to “use it like a sheet of paper”. Just like on an ipad. Then it all just clicks and makes perfect sense. This piece of “code” is all you need to reprogram your brain.

      You going around changing settings on all macs in the Apple store is completely stupid and FUTILE. All settings are restored at the end of each day. Your brain is STUCK in reverse gear and is no reason to make us suffer too.

      The “save as” is accomplished by clicking “duplicate” and tying the new name of file……..ALL IN ONE CLICK. What am I missing?

      1. You’re an asshole, and I’ll tell you why. You’re not manipulating a sheet of paper. You’re manipulating objects on screen. Therefore when you want to move the object down, you move the scroll bar down and the movement with the mouse or finger on the trackpad is down. In your world where up is down and down is up that will work but not in a world populated by normal denizens.

        Stupid dickhead is the only name for you.

        1. You don’t like someone’s comment on scrolling, so you resort to calling them an “asshole”? Pot, meet kettle.

          And I have to agree with Paul – once I got used to Natural scrolling, it is indeed much more “natural”. On a Magic Trackpad, it works perfectly and feels very intuitive.

        2. I see, no real argument, just names. Well here are the same names back at you with knobs on you fucking shithead, dumbfuck asshole!

          Obviously all of Apple agree with me and millions of others on how it should be done. Only you and a handful of others think you know better than Steve Jobs (LOL), Jony Ive, Scott Forstall and others. This is you…My iphone screen is too small, I’ll never buy a iPhone 4s, the save as feature is gone…oh what will I do now, the scroll bars are gone…oh my god the world is ending, hey, where is that RSS? Yeah right! Go back to windows you fucking asshole!

          1. Not only that, but this moron is such a power whiner that he doesn’t know that:

            In OS X Mountain Lion, Apple’s re-introducing “Save as…”
            It’s still hidden and unavailable from menus, but instead only accessible through a convoluted keyboard shortcut:
            Command-Shift-Option-S.

            1. breeze -‘but instead only accessible through a convoluted keyboard shortcut: Command-Shift-Option-S.’

              The instructions above do not work. Command > ‘s’ does.

        3. Actually, I used to use Lion with the “non-natural” scrolling direction, because it was the way usually I used the scrolling before and I thought I would never use it some other way. This, until someone told me that it was called “natural” not really because of what Paul said, but because you’ll get used to it pretty fast, and once you get used to it, you’ll have a very hard time adjusting to the “non-natural” scrolling again.

          I decided to give it a try and, in my experience, this seems true. You get used to it in less than a few hours, and once you go back to the “non-natural” scrolling, you’ll feel how wrong it seems. The only situation where you don’t want natural scrolling is when you’re using a mouse with a trackwheel – it will always feel wrong using the “natural” scrolling with those.

          1. A scene from “Matrix”……

            ” …don’t try to bend the spoon…that is impossible. Only try to realize the truth that there is no spoon”.

            Even mice with scroll wheels can be overcome. In a slightly adjusted “Matrix spoon scene”……

            “…..don’t try to scroll the scroll bar…..try to realize the truth that there are no scroll bars. Try instead to realize that your finger is on a sheet of paper or (for so called ‘OBJECTS’ as BLN wants to see them) a table”.

        4. And it’s the scroll bar that snagged you to a point in time. Forget the scroll bar. It was a tool to manipulate the page. Now you just manipulate the page. Try it on an iPad, see which is right. No, the Mac is not an iPad, but a MacBook (or any Mac with a trackpad) is an abstracted version of the same thing. The iPad made this apparent. You shouldn’t reverse directions just because the touch and view surfaces are not overlaid. I’m just glad you didn’t invent the steering wheel.

        5. Seriously BLN, I challenge you to change your OS to ‘natural scrolling’ for just 2 days of solid usage. You’d be amazed how ‘right’ it feels – and it’s easier to adopt in the absence of permanent scroll bars. Honestly, I get your kind of frustration each time I experience scrolling the *original* way now.

      2. It is completely counter-intuitive. I have no problem AUTOMATICALLY switching between dragging things on my iPhone and scrolling things on the trackpad. They work the RIGHT way when “natural” scrolling is turned off.

      3. Yes Paul and I expect that that you either do not drive or drive an automatic cat because if a car manufacturer decided to put first gear in the bottom right not the top left, they would be ridiculed too. There is no reason to change this learnt habit other than making every other machine you then try to use, like the Windows one at work a difficult experience. I undo this on every machine we sell too along with scroll bars, file count footer, hidden library folder and text under icons in mail. I think Apple are making the easiest Os in the world to use unnessesarily difficult to use and it goes against popular gui conventions and NLP. But it is always what they are getting rid of or have recently changed that causes the biggest pain, SMB windows sharing has apparently brocken in ML. As for scrolling it is nice to have the revese option available as well as the patents for an iMac with touch capabilities that can be pulled down from its vertical position to laying horizontal.

        1. I’ll agree with you about the hidden Library, but as for Natural scrolling – I completely disagree.

          Once I got used to it, I find it to be much more intuitive and natural.

          You just need to start moving the page & forget about the scroll bar.

    2. Having the choice of traditional or natural scrolling is one of the many great options that the user has when using a Mac. Intentionally changing it in the Apple store, however, is petulant, childish, and pointless.

  2. Microsoft is so lost in space with its “Inovations”, simply go a make a document search in each version of windows since Win2000 and you note that searching for documents is getting a extra step in each new version, is not simpler, is getting more complicated in each version.
    Change the screen saver, is a lot easy in the older versions than in the new ones.
    Add a printer, configure the start menu, almost any configuration is getting harder to find and to use.

  3. Man, being a Mac user since day one, Apple lost me with carbon.

    Look at the convoluted windowesc mess TextEdit is in Snow Leopard.

    How did we get there from MacWrite, which was the real Mac.

    Apple now leaves it to Microsnod to make Mac looking apps like MS Word.

  4. Steinberg writes. “I’m sure many of you can build a large list of how OS X needs to change to improve usability, particularly for tens of millions of customers who discovered Apple by way of the iPhone and iPad.”

    No OS is going to be perfect. Apple makes products that they would want to use themselves. Those products are “for the rest of us”. Users who don’t want a gazillion features and stitches to customize everything, will be happy with OS X. It’s simple and it just works. If you do want to tinker with settings, it’s hiding in the OS waiting to be manipulated if you know where to look or know UNIX. To say that a growing user base somehow makes OS X less perfect I think is nonsense. It won’t matter what size user base it is. Even the current user base of OS X have an opinion or two about the system’s features. You can’t please everybody — just hopefully enough people to make it a reasonable good product.

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