Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion has been out for week. As with all OS releases, we expect unicorns and leprechaun gold to rain down from the sky.
Mountain Lion doesn't make that happen, but does it at least deliver on its promises?
Prominent changes in Mountain Lion are borrowed from iOS. Features like Notification Center, Messages, and AirPlay have been successfully ported over from iOS, and they generally work well. Notification Center is a much more elegant solution than Growl notifications, and it makes perfect sense to have on a personal computer. AirPlay Mirroning works very well, as expected. Messages still has some room for improvement, such as support for phone numbers, but it seems to function as well as it does on iOS devices.
Mountain Lion has retained application compatibility very well. Applications that run on Lion will almost certainly work well in Mountain Lion.
As with most first-version software, Mountain Lion has some pesky bugs. In one week, I've run into one kernel panic on my 2012 MacBook Air running Mountain Lion. This only occurred once, but it never happened with Lion, so it is worth mentioning.
Some UI elements are also prone getting stuck. Notification Center - which is activated by swiping two fingers from the outside of the touchpad to the inside - repeatedly freezes, making this feature inaccessible until I reboot the MacBook Air. Although Notification Center is not a crucial feature of OS X, it is disappointing to see that a much-hyped feature is not up to snuff.
Some trackpad gestures do not seem to work 100% percent of the time. One out of ten times, the gesture to swipe between full-screen apps and desktops (three finger swipe) will activate Notification Center. This is mildly annoying.
Power Nap feature does not work at all. Though this feature promises to activate Time Machine Backup and update Notification Center while the Mac is asleep, I haven't witnesses the feature actually working on my machine. I am running the latest firmware as of August 2nd.
Mountain Lion is also sucking away battery juice at double the rate of its predecessors. On Lion, the MacBook Air got about 8 hours of playtime with moderate use. On Mountain Lion, that time has been cut to 4 hours or less.
Generally speaking, Mountain Lion doesn't seem like a huge update. Similar to Snow Leopard, it only augments and refreshes a few features without introducing big updates. For only $20 (or free if you've bought a new Mac since June 11th), lack of big updates isn't so disturbing, but we all hoped for something bigger. Meanwhile, some of the early-adopter bugs keep Mountain Lion from delivering on all of its promises.
My verdict? The sleeping lion is still sleeping.