Mountain Lion
OS X Mountain Lion is Apple's eighth software build for its Mac desktop line.

Five months after Apple released OS X Mountain Lion into the wild, the company’s eighth major build of the Mac OS X operating system is now also the most widely used version.

According to Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications, 32 percent of all Macs that went online in December were running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which was released at the end of July.

Most of the gains for OS X Mountain Lion were a result of users switching up from Apple’s previous OS X build, OS 10.7 Lion. Lion’s market share on the Mac lines dropped from 30 percent to 28 percent, while Apple’s 2009 Mac operating system, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, lost less than one percentage point in December, holding strong at 29 percent of all Mac usage. OS X Snow Leopard is still the second-most-used Mac OS, according to Net Applications.

Snow Leopard refuses to go quietly into the night as Lion has, but that’s mainly because OS X 10.6 offered a number of advantages that current Mac operating systems can no longer boast, including support for Rosetta or PowerPC applications, even though they only worked on Intel-based Macs.

While some users will continue to use OS X Snow Leopard, it seems that most users are choosing to adopt the most recent operating system, which will surely please Apple and its many developers. The adoption rate for OS X Mountain Lion has mimicked that of OS X Lion, but no operating system from the past three years has had a faster uptake than OS X Snow Leopard in 2009.

Still, Apple will be very pleased to know that it’s doing a better job than Microsoft at getting customers to upgrade to its latest operating system; Microsoft is finding itself at an extreme disadvantage with Windows 8, since its conservative, enterprise-centric customer base seems reticent to upgrade to the new-look OS and interface.

Meanwhile, OS X Mountain Lion continues to chug along. Based on the OS’s trajectory, Mountain Lion could see itself on 50 percent of all Mac computers by April or May, but that would be highly unlikely.

Apple’s decision to release a new desktop OS every year turns out to be a double-edged sword: Even though each new Mac operating system sees a big jump in adoption rates following the first few months of its release, once spring rolls around, users will have little reason to upgrade, as Mountain Lion will simply be superseded by a bigger, better and faster big cat. Apple will be expected to announce the successor to OS X Mountain Lion at this year's WWDC.

Notable Features In OS X Mountain Lion

Messages: In iOS 5, Apple dumped SMS text messaging on the iPhone and iPad and replaced it with a free platform called iMessage, a BlackBerry Messenger-type service that allowed Apple users to freely message each other text, photos and videos to and from any iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Messages is essentially iMessage for the Mac. It lets one send free and unlimited text messages from a Mac to anyone on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or on another Mac, letting users continue their conversations on any Apple device. As with iMessage, users can also send rich text, photos, contacts, locations and even 1080p HD video to their friends. Furthermore, Messages supports FaceTime -- along with other instant messaging systems like AIM, Yahoo and Google Talk -- so users can pick up their chats no matter where they started.

Messages also comes with delivery and read receipts and encrypted messaging and supports large attachments such as high-quality photos, full 1080p HD video or documents up to 100 MB. Apple also makes it easy to switch from text conversations to video calls with a new FaceTime button.

Airplay Mirroring: One of the best -- yet most underrated -- features on iOS 5 was the ability to mirror whatever was on your iPad or iPhone 4S directly on a television hooked up to an Apple TV. In other words, iPad and iPhone 4S users could display high-definition movies, presentations, slideshows, photos and websites onto a larger television screen wirelessly and seamlessly.

For those who download the OS X upgrade, let us know your thoughts! Send in your reviews, and leave your impressions in the comments section below.

Notification Center: Before Apple added the Notification Center to the iPad and iPhone, new texts and app alerts interrupted whatever the user was doing by popping a message directly in the middle of the screen. The Notification Center solved this annoyance by making notifications into small bars that appeared at the top of the device's screen momentarily, and those incoming notifications also did not interrupt the user's activities.

Apple wants its users to stay up-to-date across all of their devices, which is why the company added the Notification Center to the Mac in OS X Mountain Lion. By swiping the Mac trackpad with two fingers from right to left, the Mac Notification Center appears on the right side of the screen. Notifications from apps like Messages, Game Center, Mail, Calendar, Reminders and other downloadable third-party apps from the Mac App Store will tell you when there's something you should see. Like the iOS Notification Center system, users can choose which apps they want alerts from, and users can easily hide the Notification Center with a simple swipe.

Twitter Integration: Apple understands that people love and rely on Twitter to engage in the greater social community, and in iOS 5, the company gave its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users the ability to tweet from almost any app. Users could tweet photos, links, locations and Web pages effortlessly. In less than a year, this platform has become huge for both Apple and Twitter: iOS 5 users sent more than 10 billion tweets since the platform went live in October.

With OS X Mountain Lion, this deep Twitter integration has reached the Mac, giving desktop users the ability to tweet out directly from apps like Safari, Photo Booth or iPhoto. Just like iOS 5, a Tweet Sheet pops up, with a paper clip over any attached image or website, and the user can write their message, add a location if they want and send it out from there. It's simple, clean and fast.

Facebook Integration: After successfully baking Twitter directly into the OS software, Apple has decided to open up built-in support for Facebook. Now, after signing into their account just once, users will be able to share content -- text, links and photos -- onto their or others' walls, automatically sync their contacts with their profile photos from Facebook and receive notifications over the Notification Center.

Notes: Finally, Apple created a proper notes application for the Mac. Until this point, Mac users made do with an app called Stickies, which allowed them to create virtual multi-colored sticky notes and place them all over the computer screen. This app, while fulfilling a need for notetakers, had no way to search the notes or organize them efficiently.

This has all changed in OS X Mountain Lion. The new Notes application on the Mac takes after the app with the same name on the iPhone and iPad, which lets users create and search notes in a clean and easy-to-use interface. On the Mac, however, users will also get a chance to add photos, movies and links to their notes, as well as rich text, bullet points and formatted lists. For those users that will miss Stickies, Apple also allows anyone to tear the note right out of the Notes app and stick it anywhere on their desktop for easy access.

Game Center: The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch were all great devices for playing cheap and attractive virtual games, but before iOS 5 came along, there was no way to track and organize your progress, especially comparing it to other customers playing the same game on their Apple devices. With the introduction of Game Center on iOS 5, Apple allowed users to create accounts, keep track of their awards and achievements in games and even compete with friends or find friends to compete with.

But then, Apple thought: Why should iOS have all the fun? With Game Center coming to the Mac, desktop users can play head-to-head and turn-based games against friends and competitors on any Mac or iOS device like iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Game Center also suggests games you might like, helps you find Game Center players from around the world to play against and provides a leaderboard of the best players in each game.

Share Sheets: It's extremely easy to share photos or links on the iPhone or iPad. A box with an arrow appears on almost every page, which allows users to book mark pages, add them to the Reading List for later reading, mail the page to a friend, tweet it out to Twitter followers or print out the page on a nearby printer.

In OS X Mountain Lion, Apple added the Share button to most apps within Mountain Lion, which similarly lets users add pages or links to their reading list, bookmark them on their browser, e-mail or tweet them out or send them via Messages or iMessage. Not every sharing option applies to every page you see on the Mac, but Apple tailors sharing options based on the app you're using. For instance, some sites may allow you to share the page on Vimeo or Flickr, while others only allow Twitter. But once you perform a single sign-on for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Vimeo, your Mac is ready to share any content directly from the apps that support it.