updated 11:25 am EST, Thu February 16, 2012
OS X updates to become annual releases
Apple is changing the way it rolls out OS X and even press events, a Daring Fireball report reveals. Beginning with the newly-announced Mountain Lion, OS X is moving to an annual update schedule. Apple has traditionally waited at least two years between major updates, but may want to keep pace with Windows, as well as iOS, the latter of which has always been updated once a year.
The company is also changing the way it handles press events, according to worldwide marketing VP Phil Schiller. While Schiller has refused to go into any more detail, Daring Fireball's John Gruber notes that last week, he and others in the media were given separate, solo product briefings on Mountain Lion. In Gruber's case at least these were hosted by Schiller, PR person Bill Evans, and another product marketer, Brian Croll. People invited to the briefings were given developer previews of Mountain Lion, something only today available to the developer community as a whole. Apple has previously used larger-scale events like WWDC to unveil new versions of OS X.
Gruber has also exposed some more minor details of the new OS. Mac App Store apps, for instance, are now said to have two different ways of opening and saving documents, those being the traditional OS X file system or the new iCloud option. The iCloud interface is said to resemble the iPad springboard, with a mock linen background and an iOS-style folder system. Multiple apps have been renamed beyond iChat (now Messages), including iCal (renamed Calendar), and Address Book (retitled Contacts).
A change that may have industry-wide ramifications is Gatekeeper. Though the feature is designed to counter malware, Mountain Lion's default settings allow only apps from the Mac App Store, or those signed through a free developer ID. Users must choose to allow unsigned apps, which may potentially discourage some experimentation on the platform. Alternately, people will be able to exclude everything but Mac App Store titles.