Apple released OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" ($19.99, Mac App Store) today and we Mac users tend to be quicker than most to update our software. This blog post is a cautionary tale that you should heed if you use your Mac to earn a living or if your rely on it to be productive.
First, it's important to note that 10.8 is a major update of the entire operating system. It's much different than an incremental update to an application or even an incremental update to the OS (like 10.7.4 was). If you use your Mac to make a living or perform live, you should wait until the dust settles before installing an update of the magnitude of Mountain Lion.
You've gone this far without it, so another couple of days or a week won't kill you. Or as the old expression goes "pioneers take the arrows, settlers take the land."
The problem with major OS updates like 10.8 is that they break things. And nothing's worse than installing a major update like 10.8 only to find out that one of the apps that you use daily now crashes on launch, or won't connect to the Internet. Or that your data is gone or corrupted.
Another thing to consider is that 10.8 was relased to the public just 16 days after being declared "Golden Master." This means that developers have only been testing their applications against 10.8 for just over two weeks -- assuming that they downloaded the GM on the first day it was available and that they've been testing every day since.
I recommend waiting at least a week before installing 10.8 on your production machine. Use this time to read the Apple blogs (*cough*), and the forums of the software developers that you use the most to see if issues have arisen with 10.8 that you should know about. Apple's own Mountain Lion support overview and discussion boards are a great place to start. Just search for your most critical applications and contribute to the threads.
Another site I recommend is RoaringApps.com which aggregates 10.8 compatibility reports on hundreds of applications. It's not the fastest site in the world, but it can save you a lot of heartache. Check your top applications on Roaring Apps to make sure that they're compatible before taking the leap.
Once you've waited the requisite week and done your homework, make a complete bootable backup of your hard drive before pulling the trigger on 10.8. And don't be lazy. In fact skip Time Machine completely and invest in a solid backup application (like SuperDuper!, $28) and clone your entire hard drive or SSD to an external. Then boot from the backup and make sure that the backup is 100 percent operational.
If you're an early adopter and have already installed Apple's latest kitty, take the time to report incompatible apps through the above means (RoaringApps.com, Developer fourms, Apple Communities) and save others a lot of grief.