Mac OS X Mountain Lion release signals shift in secrecy at Apple

Posted:
in Mac OS X edited January 2014


Apple's upcoming "Mountain Lion" release of Mac OS X 10.8 is borrowing a feature from Microsoft: the prerelease software is being shown to journalists before developers.



For the first time in Mac OS X's history, Apple has presented journalists with a product briefing and prerelease copy of the operating system one week before making it available to developers. The company has historically reserved access to its prerelease software exclusively for developers who have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement.



For years, Apple remained a minority alternative to Windows, forcing the company to operate under shrouds of secrecy in order to pull off dramatic product unveilings that its competitors couldn't immediately copy. However, with the five year head start in mobile devices afforded by iOS, as well as its commanding lead in PC sales growth, Apple is now in a clear leadership position for unveiling product strategies.



Last year's release of Mac OS X Lion was first publicly unveiled in a preview delivered by Steve Jobs in October 2010, but the media wasn't given an advanced look at the new software.



Instead, Apple kept the release under NDA, a strategy that was largely ineffectual as many developers continued to leak builds that were widely disseminated through file sharing networks. As a result, rather than being able to manage the messaging of Lion, Apple found that many of its new features were leaked out to the point where they weren't surprises anymore when Lion was actually released.



Apple's NDA policies for Mac OS X Lion were largely just preventing journalists from commenting on the product while allowing the public (often led by Apple's detractors) to critically examine it, without a full understanding of what the changes meant. Apple's NDA also prevented developers from commenting on the new software until it was released.



For Mountain Lion, Apple has turned down its legendary secrecy a notch and has instead started promoting its software the same way it has promoted hardware since the iPhone, offering journalists an early and curated demonstration of its features.



Seeding anticipation



Apple's first major preview of an unannounced product in recent years was Apple TV, followed by the iPhone a few months later at the beginning of 2007. Both products were detailed by Jobs several months before they were available for sale, an uncommon event for Apple.



Other products, including most new Macs, successive iPhones, the iPad and its iPad 2 successor, have all typically been unveiled to the public just before they were available for purchase.



With the release of recent iOS devices and Macs, Jobs tried something new: he issued prerelease units to a variety of journalists to review in advance. Apple is now trying the same tactic in software with Mountain Lion, hoping to build anticipation for upcoming features through legitimate channels rather than trying to keep everything a secret.



Microsoft has done this throughout its history, although it has typically worked to unveil its plans far further out, often starting to promote its software plans two years in advance, a strategy denigrated with the term "vaporware." In contrast, Mountain Lion is expected to ship less than four months from now.



New annual updates for Macs



Apple's new public relations policy meshes with the company's overall release strategy for Mac OS X, which will now get an annual release as the platform enters its second decade of development.











Mountain Lion will ship this summer, presumably at or around Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, and Apple will continue to deliver incremental annual updates that maintain a parity of sorts with new iOS releases, an expansion of the technology sharing that has already occured between the two products at regular intervals.



Apple's chief executive Tim Cook commented that the two products are "one with incremental functionality"











Apple originally delivered its first three major new reference releases of Mac OS X as quickly as possible, but after years of rapid, major new OS releases, the company announced it would target an 18 month schedule to give developers more time to digest the significant changes being made to its core infrastructure, middleware services, public APIs and user interface elements.



While preparing to release iPhone and its iOS (essentially the mobile-optimized version of OS X), Apple's 18 month schedule for pushing out new Mac OS X releases got delayed, pushing 10.5 Leopard from its planned summer release to October 2007.



After five years of annual iOS releases, Apple is now shifting Mac OS X to the same schedule, as both products have now matured to the point where they share more technologies (including AirPlay, iCloud, FaceTime, Messages, an App Store, Notification Center, Cocoa development tools and APIs) than their obvious differentiations (the Mac's mouse and keyboard focus versus iOS' multitouch).



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,898member
    Shift in secrecy? We didn't know SQUAT about it until this morning. That's better than usual!



    Yeah, they told the press early. So what? They told people who know how to keep their mouths shut if they know what's good for them. It worked because these people live on the ability to have exclusive information. Once Apple officially told everyone about Mountain Lion, these guys had articles already written up that they posted immediately, granting them the first views. They know how to operate.



    Gizmodo, on the other hand, isn't an example of these guys.
  • igorleandroigorleandro Posts: 36member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Gizmodo, on the other hand, isn't an example of these guys.



    ROFLMAO



    Wait, no stolen prototype to buy this time?
  • hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,871member, moderator
    Apple certainly has a select group of Bloggers and Journalists that they can trust to keep quiet. I heard not a peep about ML and I recently did a search on OS X 10.8.



    Bupkiss.
  • paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,056member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Shift in secrecy? We didn't know SQUAT about it until this morning. That's better than usual!



    Yeah, they told the press early. So what? They told people who know how to keep their mouths shut if they know what's good for them. It worked because these people live on the ability to have exclusive information. Once Apple officially told everyone about Mountain Lion, these guys had articles already written up that they posted immediately, granting them the first views. They know how to operate.



    Gizmodo, on the other hand, isn't an example of these guys.



    The fact is that they told the press early, and there has been an unusual amount of communication from Apple recently. I think the 'shift', if there really is one, could be a good move. Apple is very different now than it was 5 or 10 years ago and the secrecy is almost impossible. Maybe by giving more information more often they will be able to control the rumours better. I am sure they will hold some big news back because the rumour mill is also a huge marketing freebee. But recently, by the time a product is released, everybody is so jaded, and expectations so high, that everyone is disappointed.
  • ylonylon Posts: 25member
    I'm sure glad to see a more open approach. Perhaps it will give everyone more time to offer more feedback and reporting so as to see more solid initial releases. Presently I'm very disappointed in the predominance of the eye-candy and UX section. I know these make the sales and probably mean the most to the average Joe, however the kernel and core OS have been deeply neglected for the last few releases. Solaris and even Linux are well ahead of darwin/xnu at this point in terms of memory management, process management, multi-thread support, and so forth. It's time that Apple reinvest at the Core OS.



    So many things suffer; HFS+ is a joke of a file system. Products like ZEVO (a TensComplement.com made ZFS incredible implementation that would eliminate ALL file system, data integrity, and Time Machine glitches in one fell swoop; adding superior compression that accelerates FS access and offers deduplication of data) could be acquired and brought under the Apple umbrella to build a much stronger foundation. This is what we need more than anything at this point and with Apples deep pockets, there is no reason to neglect is aspect of the OS.



    I wish that more of us would push Apple with this kind of feedback: Shore up the Core OS! It goes WAY beyond just protecting us from malware.
  • waldobushmanwaldobushman Posts: 774member
    In order to perform these releases yearly, Apple has either hired additional programming staff or current staff for some of their applications are being pulled off the other products. Which is it?



    I surmise there is little work being done on iWork, since the programmers were likely working on the new iBook Author application -- though it seems Scrivener remains are far better application for such purposes. (PS: I detest WYSIWYG -- gets in the way of content development, replacing it with layout issues. I.e, MVC should be as much a part of writing content as it is part of programming design).
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    But recently, by the time a product is released, everybody is so jaded, and expectations so high, that everyone is disappointed.



    I wonder if everyone will be disappointed with the new iPad 2S?



    Likely it will have much faster graphics!
  • just_a_guyjust_a_guy Posts: 49member
    I'm starting to wonder if Tim Cook realizes that if they give previews to people and give information about their latest and greatest products, the whole industry will shift and try to follow them. That might allow Apple to cement their position as the market leader for years to come. You get everyone afraid of what Apple will do next, and thus try and coppy them. Because Apple is now letting people know what they are doing (somewhat), it could cause companies to have a lot less time to come up with good sulutions!
  • just_a_guyjust_a_guy Posts: 49member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    The fact is that they told the press early, and there has been an unusual amount of communication from Apple recently. I think the 'shift', if there really is one, could be a good move. Apple is very different now than it was 5 or 10 years ago and the secrecy is almost impossible. Maybe by giving more information more often they will be able to control the rumours better. I am sure they will hold some big news back because the rumour mill is also a huge marketing freebee. But recently, by the time a product is released, everybody is so jaded, and expectations so high, that everyone is disappointed.



    I agree that people's expectations are unreasonably high. I do think that by giving more information earlier, they definately are controling rumors. They also havve the advantage of being able to get feedback as you said. I also think that by doing this, they give developers enough time to work with the new system. I would be willing to bet that Apple is doing this because as I said before, they want the companies to chase them even more. Lastly, for most of the computing population, they end up dangeling a carrot in front of them, so by the time the OS comes out they are psyched beyond beleif!
  • paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,365member
    I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't announced in the old way, with a big announcement like in the past. Kind of makes me wonder if it's a sign that they regard the Mac as less important now, and since the Mac is the Apple product I most couldn't live without, that would be a shame.



    WIth that said, there's probably no conspiracy theory here!
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't announced in the old way, with a big announcement like in the past. Kind of makes me wonder if it's a sign that they regard the Mac as less important now, and since the Mac is the Apple product I most couldn't live without, that would be a shame.



    WIth that said, there's probably no conspiracy theory here!



    In the past they had two event for demoing Mac OS X. They had the Preview event that covered the top 10 or 12 features... and then several seasons later they had another demo right before launch that covered the exact same stuff. I'm quite happy that they did it this way so we're not rehashing the same coverage twice.
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,445member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't announced in the old way, with a big announcement like in the past. Kind of makes me wonder if it's a sign that they regard the Mac as less important now, and since the Mac is the Apple product I most couldn't live without, that would be a shame.



    WIth that said, there's probably no conspiracy theory here!



    When was the last time Apple had a major keynote SOLELY to announce a new OSX version? They did this exactly the right away. No point in doing a keynote for something many months away. Defeats the purpose, as well as dilutes the impact of these keynotes. ML will be previewed again onstage closer to release, no doubt. And no, to me it's a sign they're continuing to focus on macs and still believe they have high importance. They wouldn't have taken such an effort if they believed otherwise. Read John Gruber's impressions: http://daringfireball.net/
  • jpellinojpellino Posts: 555member
    I don't think it's a shift in secrecy so much as a realization that members of the press are a lot better at making noise about a new product than developers are. Props on indispensability to developers of course. But developers are busy developing of this next rollout, while the press is busy getting the word out.
  • flaneurflaneur Posts: 3,762member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    . . . I am sure they will hold some big news back because the rumour mill is also a huge marketing freebee. But recently, by the time a product is released, everybody is so jaded, and expectations so high, that everyone is disappointed.



    The whiners with a low boredom threshold, the "meh" and "underwhelmed" crowd, are the ones who are "disappointed." They live on emotions, not reason, and they don't count, except with regard to the noise level.
  • maciekskontaktmaciekskontakt Posts: 230member
    And some Journalists will make out of it some (non)sense and we will end up with bug-features beacuse public will have to be satisfied based on BS interpretation by so called technical journalists.



    "Good idea". Congratulations! Now we will get Mac OS X and iOS same "qality" as Windows mess.
  • paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,365member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    When was the last time Apple had a major keynote SOLELY to announce a new OSX version? They did this exactly the right away. No point in doing a keynote for something many months away. Defeats the purpose, as well as dilutes the impact of these keynotes. ML will be previewed again onstage closer to release, no doubt. And no, to me it's a sign they're continuing to focus on macs and still believe they have high importance. They wouldn't have taken such an effort if they believed otherwise. Read John Gruber's impressions: http://daringfireball.net/



    Good link, thanks.
  • johnny mozzarellajohnny mozzarella Posts: 1,728member
    I think John Gruber's explanation makes sense.

    If they do too many keynotes they stop being special.



    They just did a mini keynote for iBooks Author, a completely new product.

    They are about to do one in March for the next iPad, their fastest growing product segment.



    Mountain Lion, while a nice upgrade, did not merit an entire event.
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,445member
    I liked this part:



    Quote:

    There many new features, I’m told, but today they’re going to focus on telling me about ten of them. This is just like an Apple event, I keep thinking. Just like with Lion, Mountain Lion is evolving in the direction of the iPad. But, just as with Lion last year, it’s about sharing ideas and concepts with iOS, not sharing the exact same interaction design or code. The words “Windows” and “Microsoft” are never mentioned, but the insinuation is clear: Apple sees a fundamental difference between software for the keyboard-and-mouse-pointer Mac and that for the touchscreen iPad. Mountain Lion is not a step towards a single OS that powers both the Mac and iPad, but rather another in a series of steps toward defining a set of shared concepts, styles, and principles between two fundamentally distinct OSes.



    I think this nails it. Microsoft took the approach of using the exact same interaction paradigm of a phone to a desktop. Apple obviously still sees the need for 2 very separate OS lines, but with shared features and tight integration. They're focusing on and updating the entire OS, instead of slapping a touchlayer on it and leaving the legacy stuff unchanged, as in Win8.
  • rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Shift in Secrecy?...



    I don't see them blabbing about Apple TV and Tim Cook had plenty of chances!



    This just seems the case of what Steve Jobs said...



    Don't ask yourself, "What would Steve Jobs do?" Just do what is right. I guess this is right.

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  • johnny mozzarellajohnny mozzarella Posts: 1,728member
    I also suspect that just before it is released, Apple will do a full event where they will go over the major new features and announce 2 or 3 surprise features.

    My money would be on.

    1) iBooks for Mac

    2) Siri

    3) Maps (new crazy Apple 3D maps technology)



    Ok the 3rd one is a stretch.
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