Don't upgrade to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion before reading this

Don't upgrade to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion before reading this

Summary: It's tempting to install OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" immediately, but to avoid a costly mistake you need to thoroughly check all of your productivity apps to make sure that they're compatible.

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Don't install Mountain Lion before reading this

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.

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Software

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104 comments
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  • I agree...

    I agree... Well said. You are the first journalist to actually recommend what I think is just common sense. Yet I see comments of people who downloaded it the second it came out. Maybe they even camped out in front of their own home, for the true Apple debut experience.

    I would suggest more than a week, but play it by ear. Just search for Mountain Lion bugs and see how bad it is. Not only is this a major upgrade, but Apple's quality has been declining. They are trying to pack too much into releases. I wrote a piece on my site (Appledystopia) about the new release. I have some concerns about their social networking. It could have been more open. Heck, even WordPress can share to multiple social networks. I also see planned obsolescence being quite obvious. This release excludes many more Macs than I had hoped. I used to tell friends that at least with a Mac you can upgrade it for at least 5 years. My Mac Pro, which has the most longevity, will probably have its last upgrade with Mountain Lion. MacBooks have it the worst. I have a link to the system requirements on my site...
    Appledystopia
    • 32-bit EFI systems should be supported

      It's disappointing these aren't upgradeable to Mountain Lion.

      Many of these are still good systems. Lion is not a good OS to migrate to and future support for Snow Leopard likely to be limited:-(
      Richard Flude
      • The F word

        Apple ........ Fragmentation!
        warboat
    • I think their business practices are getting a little out of hand

      Breaking compatibility, forced obsolescence, etc. All companies do this, but I think since the death of Jobs they've been under the microscope a little more and all these things are becoming a little bit blatant.
      dsa791
      • Had to downgrade

        There is a (albeit finite) number of mid-2010 MPB owners (me being one...) who have experienced never-ending "black screen" crashes and "kernel panics" following an upgrade to Lion. See https://discussions.apple.com/message/16334551#16334551 and https://discussions.apple.com/message/15665312#15665312

        Apple never fixed this with any Lion OS updates, but were obviously well aware of the problem... I upgraded to Lion six months ago, then two months ago rolled back to Snow Leopard after experiencing these problems daily (sometimes multiple times).

        Backwards compatibility? It gets worse. I'm a developer and I depend on Xcode (Apple developer tools for IOS and Mac) for some of the work I do. Not only is my two-year young $2000 computer unable to support their last OS, but Apple has made it almost impossible to run Xcode4 on Snow Leopard. So I have to run Xcode3.2. That's BS.

        I also have an iPhone4 that drops calls regularly. Apple conveniently fixed that problem with the 4S. iPhone4 was more like a beta. My first computer was an Apple IIC... I'm not new to Apple products and I'm far from being a "H8t3R"; I've used (and enjoyed) Apple products for a long time.

        I wont be upgrading to "Mountain Lion" and I'd advise consumers to wait more than a week or two to upgrade. That's my $.02...
        cljordan1
        • Re: Had to.................

          Say it isn't so. Apple don't make crapware!! Just ask the fanboys!!ROFLMAO!!! Apple must have subcontracted to M$ for the new OS! ROFLMAO!! If it's Apple it just works! That's what the fanboys always say!! What Happened????????? Did the Apple have a bug/ worm in it????ROFLMAO!! Forced obsolescence???WTH!

          Now for ZDNet, I SUBMITTED TO YOU( ZDNet) THAT I CAN'T POST TO ZDNet WITH 2 OF FIREFOX"S ADD-ONS ENABLED! THOSE BEING Ghostery AND DO NOT TRACK PLUS. YOU SAID YOU"D LOOK INTO IT! IT'S BEEN OVER A WEEK AND STILL SAME-O, SAME-O. HELLO!
          If I turn these 2 off, no problemo. If I don't, hitting submit goes into a forever ---"loading" until I close the discussion! I can post to CNet blogs with both enabled. What gives??????????????
          Disgruntled_MS_User
          • The problem is ghostery

            I have the identical problem, but I don't have "Do not track plus" installed. Have you tried disabling ghostery temporarily in order to post?
            cdgoldin
        • The MBP issues didn't affect everyone

          I have a machine of similar vintage and had no operating troubles with Lion. However, I did make the Mountain Lion mistake.

          It totally disabled one of my existing xcode implementations (4.2), and forced me to redownload Java for xcode 3.2, even though I've already downloaded it for Lion.

          So now, after 4 gigs of downloading to get Mountain Lion, I need 2 gigs to restore access to xcode, and I won't be able to simulate iOS 4 when done (xcode 4.4 is an iOS 5 sim.)

          Not thrilled with what it did to my dev tools, but otherwise Mountain Lion is pretty cool. The speech to text works better than any implementation I've used before.
          Mac_PC_FenceSitter
          • shame on you

            You've wasted lots of time and effort that you could have spared if you had installed 10.8 on a virtual machine before destroying your existing development environment.

            By they way ever heard of the word "backup"?
            frantaylor
        • Too bad for you...

          ...because Mountain Lion is ~THE~ "Snow Leopard" for Lion.

          Just as Leopard felt like (and was pretty much) a beta, so Lion too was that same beta. Ever wondered why ML is so cheap? Really, the 'series' is 50 bucks - 30 for Lion and 20 for the 'rest of the package' -- Mountain Lion.

          We've 'subsidised' Mountain Lion through Lion in more ways than we care to believe.
          theanimaster
    • Simple smart advice.

      I know there are those who will crap on Apple becuase of the potential of a new OS breaking an app, but seriously, its a major update, some leway and understanding has to be given.

      I just dont agree with the fast handed trashing of any OS I see so frequently around here. Computer operating systems are pretty complex things. It wasnt so long ago the concept of even making such a thing work would be hard to beleive and we are still years away from making any of this process seamless and always glitch free. The price tag for a major upgrade of $20 is pretty good for Apple too.
      Cayble
      • $20 for an OS from Apple

        Whenever Apple charges $20 for something, you just know it's not worth even half that price.
        warboat
        • Is that why fandroids are famous for wanting everything free?

          It's only worth half what they paid, $0? ;-)

          See, two can play at the childish bashing of another's OS choice. I will stop know and let you be childish by yourself.
          non-biased
  • Here is a rule of thumb on new software

    Never buy, install or even consider new software until others clear the bugs. That is a couple of weeks for patches/updates, a few months for new software.
    wackoae
    • So by that logic...

      never use a computer. There are always and will always be bugs. Yes, there are often less after a patch or two, but I disagree that you shouldn't use software at launch. It is a lot more that you should be aware that you will encounter more bugs with a newly launched product than one that's been on the shelf for months/years.
      ikissfutebol
      • Tending to agree

        I mostly agree with @ikissfutebol. In the old days it was much better to wait. However, with such great back-up tools and generally a much better quality of update these days, I tend to go with upgrades when they happen. Many new features and much better security (for a variety of reasons).

        As to third party software that may or may not work with a new OS update like this one, I think that is the responsibility of the third-party developer. They are most in tune with what does and does not work with their software (or should be). They should be communicating with their customers and letting them know. Take a look at Marketcircle and Daylite 4. They have been telling their clients, for weeks, not to upgrade to Mountain Lion because of issues – issues they are working to resolve. So...I'll not be upgrading the OS until that is handled because it is mission critical.
        JScottA44
        • Just because somethings backed up

          doesn't necessarily mean you want to have to depend on that. This is one of the reason I always tell people to keep old laptops. They make great testing grounds. For Mountain Lion it might be tough because of the hardware requirements (which I will admit I don't specifically know), but I think the best way to implement new updates and OS versions is to test it on a home PC first.
          dsa791
          • It's crazy

            Even on 2008 mac it worked like:
            Double click and app, wait for a minute, AH! It opened!

            It's way too demanding...
            wampyra
        • Tending to agree

          The problem with this particular release is that, as Mr. O'Grady pointed out, the GM release has only been out a couple weeks, meaning developers have had very little time to test their software with the new OS before it went public. That is a problem that Apple could resolve by just leaving it at GM for another couple weeks or so. Give the devs a chance to test with the new environment before releasing it to the public at large.
          swmace
          • pay $20 to beta test for Apple

            Apple is charging fanboys $20 to beta test new software for them.
            Software R&D department is on holidays, PR department will "FIX" all the bugs.
            warboat