Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

With "Mountain Lion", the next Mac OS X operating system, out to developers today, why is a new version on the cards so soon after its previous incarnation?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The one thing that jumps out over the past hour of reporting --- and the hour I was on my lunch break, go figure --- is how soon after 'Lion' comes 'Mountain Lion', the next version of the Mac OS X operating system.

Seven months after the last version of Mac OS X was released, the speed in which Apple develops is breathtakingly fast, considering each and every time it simply adds more to where it left off.

Is Apple going too fast in its development? No, it's not. In fact, I think Apple strikes the balance just right, and the timing almost down to perfection.

You have Microsoft updating Windows roughly every 2--3 years with a radical overhaul of interfaces, designs, applications and features. Every once in a while, it throws in a curveball like a 'cultural identity' shift towards Metro; something only a fraction of people actually wants.

And then you have the Mozilla 'on steroids' routine. An update every few weeks from Firefox 5 to 6, 7 and 8 all in the space of a few months. It not only makes it a nightmare for users who do not have seamless upgrades unlike Google's Chrome browser, but it causes no end of updating headaches for enterprise administrators who have to push out the browser so often.

Seven months is a suitable time to keep things fresh, the price of the product down --- and in some cases, as a free upgrade --- and the end consumers feel as though they are not forgotten about. In fact, it's seven months since Lion was brought out and Mountain Lion was announced. As sister site CNET notes, there is a roughly a year gap between each release.

Apple wants to keep things on the edge, whilst giving the impression that its users are far from the cliff edge. Not a great analogy, but it's not the fear, rather the excitement of the drop. Seven months for the announcement to grab the hook, a year for the end product release.

But the enterprise still feels left behind in the cold by Apple. Its Lion Server product is more akin to Microsoft's series of Windows Home Servers. The multiple users, file sharing and even a mail server are all useful features for small to medium-sized businesses, but the power still rests in the hands of Linux and arguably Windows too.

The real question is how prepared will the Apple developer community be. Mac developers in particular will need time to get to grips with the new APIs, the new features, and also help Apple shake out the bugs.

Image source: CNET.


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