Ted Landau of Mac Observer:
As I noted in a prior column, every highlighted new feature in Mountain Lion is a feature already in iOS 5 or coming in iOS 6. There seems no doubt that this is all part of Apple’s long-term Mac strategy to make OS X the functional equivalent of iOS.
He goes on to say that OS X will be essentially lessened until it fits the walled-garden model of iOS. I don’t interpret it that way. Picture iOS not as a walled-garden, where outside the gates the weeds grow and predators roam. Instead, think of it as an island with only one port and no access by air travel. On iOS nothing gets in that Apple doesn’t explicitly approve (aside from the web, which is by design unable to harm the system or other apps). Full control of everything on the platform is an ideal, and for mobile devices, Apple gets very close.
Then there’s OS X. Landau’s speculation ends with the desktop operating system limited in the same ways as its mobile counterpart: only programs from the AppStore allowed, file system obscured, no modification at the OS level, etc. The benefits of doing so are numerous and have probably been debated within the halls of Apple many times. But if Macs are to be used by creative professionals—and I think the new Retina MacBook Pro emphasizes this—such a limiting makes no little sense.
It is more likely that Apple will create a true walled-garden in OS X. Threats and possible complications lurk outside of the Apple ecosystem, and users can go out there if they want to, but the default for consumers is within the walls. The library folder may be hidden, but you can get to it if you really need it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did the same for the file system entirely—once their alternative is ready. But to suggest that users of consumer targeted devices like the MacBook Air and iMac will be locked inside the garden goes too far. Features in Mountain Lion, gatekeeper (talk about walled garden analogies) to be specific, reinforce Apple’s commitment to securing the Mac experience while allowing freedom to advanced users.
Who knows what Apple plans for Mac Pro customers next year? Whatever it is, I highly doubt that it will be a special developer (read, legacy) version of OS X.