Despite how it might seem to some, Apple probably isn’t turning its back on the Mac – even if it’s dropping the “Mac” from the name of its OS. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Shane Doucette.

See a significant correction below; an earlier version of this story claimed incorrectly that Windows on ARM would be limited in how it can exploit native audio code.

I hear a lot of pro users afraid that Mac OS X will suddenly turn into iOS, making their computer into a giant, hinged phone they can’t use any more. Mountain Lion, the update Apple introduced privately to a handful of journalists hand-picked by their PR, may throw more fuel on those fears. Apple brought over some familiar features from iOS to Mac OS, and even prods users into installing apps from the App Store or containing some special developer key.

But let me give away the punchline in one line: With Mountain Lion set to default, developers can distribute software without using the App Store. That’s really all you need to know. For our community, my guess is that plug-ins shouldn’t be impacted at all, which makes this even more of a non-news-item.

I spend a lot of time talking to developers about what it’s like to work with Mac OS, and looking at how this impacts your experience as a user. So, even though I wasn’t on Apple’s short list, I can say with some confidence that this announcement – unless we hear something new – most likely means:

1. You’ll probably switch off this new Gatekeeper feature and use whatever software you want.

2. The name “Mac OS X” will be “OS X,” but you’ll keep calling it the Mac. (Heck, some of you will still call it Macintosh. Just don’t say “ex,” okay?)

3. The notification system isn’t all that different from Growl. If anything, that continues an Apple tradition of aping ideas from the third-party that goes back to the days when OS releases began with the word “System.”

4. Those of you using Mac OS to make music will probably continue to do so, because the OS still has the benefits that are the reason you use it. Those of you who use other operating systems, we’ll continue to look at how to get the most out of those.

That’s it. Really. You can safely ignore the debate – on all sides – likely to rage about what this OS update means. The stuff that matters most to us as musicians isn’t necessarily what matters to other people. (Now, you might personally decide you like iCloud and notifications and other little features; I’m just saying they don’t directly impact all music software. Nor do I see any indication they’ll get in the way if you don’t like them – and to the extent they do, you should be able to switch them off, as in notifications.)

In fact, even if music devs decide they want to make themselves compatible with the new app safeguards without getting on the App Store, they can get a developer certificate (apparently a few minutes’ work). My guess is, given almost no music devs have jumped into the App Store as distribution model, this means this changes nothing. And because those same developers usually certify their software before they say it’s compatible with a new OS update – on Windows as well as on the Mac – the certificate could even be a good indication that an app was tested on Mountain Lion.

Given the overheated coverage talking about how this revolutionizes computing or turns the Mac into an iPhone or an HDTV or the spawn of all that is evil or something, I thought I’d – for once – write something a little shorter. Mac hardware and software have loads of stuff that isn’t available on mobile. (For instance, I’ve gotten no indication yet that Thunderbolt, which is increasingly looking like the future of pro I/O in very cool ways, is coming to mobile platforms any time soon.) And the guts of Mac OS X remain the same under these surface-level changes – even if some people find them a bit creepy.

There’s a lot of understandable worry about how iOS and Mac OS X – erm, “OS X” – are merging. But under the hood, it’s the same OS.

For a great overview, free of lots of spin, check out Jason Snell at Macworld:

Hands on with Apple’s new OS X: Mountain Lion

Apple gets a lot more attention – and more impassioned emotions – these days. But the only really fundamental change I’ve seen is Microsoft blocking third-party Windows desktop code on ARM.

Correction: I was simply wrong when I claimed, however, that this means that Windows 8 will not allow native code; the WinRT API model will in fact do that, as readers, including Martin Törnsten, observe:

Native code targeting WinRT is also supported using C and C++, which can be targeted across architectures and distributed through the Windows Store.

Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture

Since you can’t directly port “desktop” Mac or Linux apps to iOS or Android, respectively, this wouldn’t be a fair comparison with OS X in the first place. The more interesting question to me that will require further testing is whether Windows on ARM will have some of the audio real-time prioritization benefits that Windows on Intel does, and if it can avoid some of the latency and reliability pitfalls seen (for now, at least) on Android. But I retract my earlier statements on two levels – one, they were wrong, and two, they weren’t really relevant to a discussion of OS X’s app distribution model.

If Apple does do something that causes serious problems for music development, believe me, you’ll hear about it here.

Macworld Looks at GateKeeper; More Reason Not to Panic:

Jason Snell goes into some detail:

Mountain Lion: Hands on with Gatekeeper

Here’s the important bit:

It’s not a background check for developers. Getting a developer certificate isn’t like getting a passport or a driver’s license. A developer signs up for an account and gets a certificate. That’s it. What’s more, these apps have no seal of approval from Apple. Apple never sees them. Developers don’t need to check with Apple before signing apps. Apple’s not involved other than providing them with a certificate that Apple can revoke later if it feels the developer is distributing malware.

Moreover, given that GateKeeper appears to verify at app at launch time, it would appear to me that plug-ins will be exempt. That means that updating your host – something you’re likely to do anyway with a new OS – would presumably make all your plug-ins work, too. (Well, apart from any potential changes to the plug-in architecture, but that’s nothing new.)

There seems to be no evidence, for instance, that those of us building something like Ardour or SuperCollider or Pure Data couldn’t simply get a developer key (possibly for free) and use that. Free and open source software would be allowed. None of the restrictions in the App Store or on iOS appear to be present. OS X remains a proprietary OS, but it’s not any more proprietary with Mountain Lion than it is with Lion.

Indeed, using signing to verify the authenticity of software is something common to many operating systems, including free OSes. Apple’s situation is different in that there’s one vendor (Apple), but there’s substantial evidence in just the hours after press have seen the OS that the signing process will be straightforward. And, once again, the important thing is that you can turn the feature off. My frustration with iOS’ inflexibility remains – Apple could simply have an “allow unknown sources” checklist as Android does, and a lot of us would be happier. But that checklist is precisely what’s on the forthcoming OS X. And I wouldn’t expect Mac users to settle for anything less.

Apple’s Mac market is tremendously lucrative; it’s part of why they’ve got all of this money in the bank, it has some of the biggest profit margins in the entire tech industry (certainly the largest of any major computer maker), it’s the one computer that has shown dramatic growth (often at the expense of PC rivals), Apple has built an extraordinary logistics and inventory system behind selling it, and it represents a lot of the soul of the Apple brand and developer and creative markets that have propelled iOS devices. It seems logical to assume Apple would protect that market. Adding some iOS technologies is not necessarily killing the Mac. And it appears the restrictions everyone is freaking out allow you to run 100% of the software you’re running today.

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  • fedpep

    According to John Gruber (http://daringfireball.net/2012/02/mountain_lion), OS X will enter an annual release cycle as iOS and that's what scares me most. We know really well all the problems that can occur in our audio setup when we update the OS… usually, the release of drivers for sound card and DAW/plugin updates take between 1 and 3 months, sometimes even 6 months.

    If OSX is becoming more like iOS, I think that OSX developers should start thinking as iOS developers and start distributing their softwares through the Mac App Store (or similar, like IK Multimedia's Amplitube with his own "in-app-store") with in-app purchase options.

    A new version of Logic with in-app purchase for every vst or plug-in, anyone?!

    • seancostello

      "If OSX is becoming more like iOS, I think that OSX developers should start thinking as iOS developers and start distributing their softwares through the Mac App Store (or similar, like IK Multimedia's Amplitube with his own "in-app-store") with in-app purchase options."

      Giving Apple 30% of every sale, in order to be drowned out in the sea of apps that lurk under the top 10 or 25 = not very appealing to developers. Most music software developers already have an online delivery model, without the restrictions of the App store.

      "A new version of Logic with in-app purchase for every vst or plug-in, anyone?!"

      If the in-app purchase followed the iOS model, this would require that every single plugin would have to SHIP with Logic, so it could be switched on in-app.

    • fedpep

      I agree with you, my comment was just a consideration for those companies that struggle with updates when a new OSX version is released. I had to wait 9 months to be able to use my old M-Audio Firewire 410 with Leopard (with a "beta" software that wasn't really stable at the beginning and made my MIDI connections work horribly).

    • peterkirn

      Right, that's a good point — it'd be unfortunate if that meant we had 3 months of the year in which stuff was compatible. But we just don't know enough about the details of what happens internally with this release cycle.

    • fedpep

      Yes, I think we'll discuss these points probably in a year from now.

  • peterkirn

    A yearly release cycle is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Remember, a *point* release can cause havoc for audio apps. So, the theoretical landmarks of that release cycle aren't nearly so important as how often plumbing changes — particularly plumbing having to do with audio subsystems and hardware I/O. 

    I'm more concerned about how Apple telegraphs those changes to developers and how they roll out test builds than I am about how they market the OS updates.

    In fact, rolling lots of little updates into a predictable annual schedule could be a good thing for devs. We just don't know yet on that front.

    • Blob

      What bugs me about a yearly OSX release cycle is the possibility that some developers might not be able to ensure backwards compatibilty for a reasonable amount of time. But I'm probably being paranoid.

      Apart from that, as long as the App Store distribution model doesn't become mandatory, I see no problem with iOS feature integration.

    • Anusideral

      So, Apple is putting everything in place for turning its OS into a giant APPstore in a near future, but its fine. Don't panic, Apple are the good guys.

      Apple is basically milking you every year for obligatory updates that don't bring you anything new but it's fine.

      You won't hear about Microsoft blocking stuff everywhere, because they're only blocking third parties from IE, not from their entire OS through an appstore, nor are they slowly fucking up the neutral network integrity by changing it (with google) into a private "apps" network.

      And you know why microsoft can't do that? Because it's losing every single trial they get in europe and else for abusing from their monopolistic situation, if they did that they would get sued and lose billions, meanwhile Apple "the underdog", "the nice guys" are pretty much free to do whatever they want.

      Every posts on Apple from you bear no criticism, it just sounds like plain fanboyism, and that's a shame compared to the overall quality of your blog.

  • Sumone

    Even with stable (more expensive) apps on my iPhone 4s and iPad 2 I still get crashes all the time. My iPad has deleted many things apple support has told me it was your problem basically. One quick example is the Bjork app. I purchased the in-app upgrad (which I hate, wish it was one price) and my iPad crashed (one week old) and I never got my content back I purchased in app even though Apple assured me I would. 

    Trying to make music on iOS has been frustrating to say the least. Even Lemur froze the first time I tried to use it to DJ infront of people. Thankfully it was not running any music on the iPad but it was still stress I did not need at the time.

    Basically my fear of OSX becoming iOS is the loss of usability and reliability. I just hope they can merge the two worlds gracefully so I can finally have my 15" touchscreen laptop with multiple USB outlets. Apple is amazing because they made the most complicated machine we own easy to use, I just hope they dont go the other direction with that (app store).

  • jacobjoaquin

    I don't have an issue with OS X becoming more like iOS. If anything, I welcome it. Apple, imho, has been successfully transforming their product line into a seamless product ecosystem. I look forward to seeing my laptop being able to do the things my iphone can already do, such as Airplay. I also think the App store is a great way to find new things to play with.

    I also don't believe that Apple will eventually pull the rug from under developers, because then would develop for their platform? Is it possible that they'll do this, of course, but I just don't see it happening. I imagine it'll be the best of both OS X and iOS. Or at least a really good blend.

  • peterkirn

    @Sumone: Right, but you can't equate superficial changes to the things that are sources of frustration on the iPad. You're on a completely different hardware platform with far-greater memory and computational resources on the Mac. And just because those apps are crashing doesn't mean your Mac apps will crash for the same reason. (not to mention… computer apps *can* crash, if a developer somewhere makes a mistake…)

  • oxxi

    My only problem with this update is that it still doesn't suport PPC programs. 

  • Jeff

    I do hope to see as many applications as possible in the Mac App Store.  I am having a HUGE problem right now with Ableton and Cycling '74 not authorizing my programs because I have done so already too many times (what can I say, I love a fresh install – and yes, I know I could buy an iLok).  Anyway, having my copy of Logic Studio on the App Store is a great help and I can authorize it on any machine I am currently using (although that 20GB download is rough).  I would love to see Live, Max, etc. jump to the app store and offer lower prices as a result.  Hopefully, if these companies can rely on Apple to serve their programs, they can pass on the savings to consumers.

    Also, Sumone, not to be rude, but my feelings are that you need to update and restore your iPad.  I believe the problems are with the user and not the device.  If you expect software to be buggy and work perfectly all the time, then you just have an unreasonable view on technology.  It is going to be messy sometimes!

  • Neil

    I agree with @peterkirn itouch devices are a completely different beast from the standard hardware by apple, they are still young and under developed compared to the other family of hardware products apple makes. at the moment they are 2 different beasts that one cant easily compare. @peterkirn apps will crash for hardware reasons also beyond developers mistakes, like forexample I had faulty vram in my first gen macbook pro which caused apps like abelton to crash due to the high refresh rate that software uses. swapped out the board in the laptop and the issue disappeared.. so its not always the software or the os it can be the hardware. @Sumone you might want to try a fresh reinstall of your ipad or if you can afford it to get apple support to runa diagnostic on it you might have some thing wrong with your ipad hardware. I have to say though a lot of ios 5 apps like the lemur crash on 1st gen ipads (mine crashes often, its just the nature of the young technology its not perfect). The other thing that can cause your ipad to freeze up is when your using midi over wifi, if the signal is not the greatest between your hardware and your itouch device it will freeze up as it looks for that connection again. it happens often for me with griid and kapture on both my ipad and ipod when Im gigging out not much one can do you just relaunch but I would not trust an ipad just yet as my main machine for a live show…

  • Randy

    Jeff, I'm assuming you meant "…software to not be buggy and work perferctly…". I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation, and you shouldn't either. Much of what we buy now-a-days arrives in our hands in a beta-test state, which is not at all professional or ethical. Unless the developer is giving the software to me, and clearly labeling it as being beta-test software, I expect it to run without problems. Complacency has put us in a bad position in many areas.

  • Veridical Driver

    This is the new model of McComputing… Software as a consumer item, with the power firmly in the hands of some intellectual property cartel.

    • digid

      That doesn't make any sense, and is the same kind of drivel you would read on your typical ANDROID RULEZ, APPLE ONLY WANT$ YOUR MONEY blog post.

      Software as a consumer item? Well, eh, yes. You have to buy, so per se you consume it. Then you create. Where does it go wrong for you?

  • peterkirn

    @Veridical Driver: did you read *anything* I wrote? What the heck does that even mean?

    The certification process is something Linux might even go to at some point. We're talking about something as simple as signing up for a key. You can switch off the verification, as well.

    In fact, Linux software that's in a repository *already* works this way. Now, to be fair, Apple is just one vendor that's distributing those keys… but, again, you can turn the system off, giving you complete control of your software. (and if you can even, allegorically, think of Apple as the 'distro' here…)

    You can also distribute GPL-licensed software on the Mac, and there appear to be no new licensing terms associated with this key (though that will be something we'll need to check and be mindful of, as that *would* be a big deal if it weren't true)

    • Ollonborren

      @peterkirn: I read somewhere GPL will still be incompatible with the Appstore but LGLP works fine. I might be wrong though. Also, software in a repository where you have to create an account to get the source code and then do what you want with it, isn't the same as what Apple is "offering". You can't sell your program in the Appstore, where most of the users will shop, if your cert gets revoked, but you can still do anything you want with the source code you checked out from the repository. To put it more simple, one thing is to get something, another thing is to sell sell. To me your parable is not correct.

    • peterkirn

      Right, but here's my understanding:

      The GPL issue is related to the Terms of Service for the Mac App Store.

      Giving developers a unique signed key is independent from the App Store, and therefore its TOS. In fact, there don't seem to be *any* requirements other than registering. Actual malware might get blacklisted, but as Macworld reports, even blacklisted software isn't automatically removed – and GPL-licensed software isn't malware.

      So, if we're talking the App Store, then yes, GPL software is not welcome.

      But the default settings in Mountain Lion include App Store-distributed software *and* software that's signed. GPL software should be just fine in the latter category.

      Again, see the bold-faced sentence I added to the top of the article. If Apple were requiring developers to distribute via the App Store, then you'd see people getting very, very, very angry indeed. But that's not what they're saying. 

      Oh, and another *hugely* important point:

      Mixxx, for instance, is GPL-licensed software available on the Mac App Store. Now, technically, the Mac App Store is incompatible with the GPL — but only if its your exclusive distribution method. So, on iOS, where you *are* forced to buy via Apple's distribution method, you've be breaking GPL. But on the Mac – including Mountain Lion, as near as I can tell – it's not a problem. The GPL terms are satisfied because you can download and run the software independently.

  • oxxi

    It’s the most advanced Os and it still can’t support Ppc apps? I just really whish they could bring ppc back. There are still lots of really useful music programs I want to use.

  • mono

    It'd be less of a problem if not for the Apple complete lack of interest to support older version of OSX and no dev seems to know what they're up to till the OS lands… Base on the galatic speed of updates I've been getting for my audio software/drivers, I won't be surprised if the next upgrade has to be Windows out of necessity (<- still stuck on Snow Leopard)

    And dont' tell me everyone already forgotten how Logic glitches everytime a new OS lands. It's their own DAW FFS

  • http://chuckivy.com ChuckEye

    I wouldn’t sweat an anual release cycle, so long as they let Core code stay Core code and don’t reinvent their standards with every release. It seems to me that the whole point of CoreAudio and similar frameworks was to EASE the development of apps to tap into certain features. It does no developers any good if the SDK changes every 6 months…

  • markLouis

    Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

    • Leslie

      WTF..?!

    • Juno

      It's Apple's own 1984 advert.

    • http://transit161.com DGillespie

      I like it!

    • Leslie

      We are BORG, resistance is futile!

  • Cynic

    Peter, I find your comment regarding Windows-on-ARM a little presumptuous/premature. After all, the great Apple (and I'm not a particularly pro-Microsoft or any company these days) said native third-party apps wouldn't be allowed on the iPhone not all that long ago. And, there's a distinction in Windows 8 between desktop apps and the so-far-admittedly-hideous Metro apps, of which third-party contributions will run on WoA. The real question is whether, as already announced for future versions of Windows Phone, MS allows native code within Metro apps on Windows 8. The Metro world of Windows 8 is basically an equivalent to iOS, and I don't see anyone moaning that iOS apps don't run on OS X.

    It seems to me that Apple is doing less for creative professionals than anyone else right now. Yes, these i-appy things are all well and good. But where musicians may love OS X today, they may find themselves left out in the cold when the only hardware on which they can run Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, etc… are iMacs and ultra-thin laptops! We probably won't even be able to call them iMacs anymore if today's announcement is anything to go on…

  • http://www.tootdotcom.com toot!

    30% of the money I spend on software going to Apple? No thanks.

    Who's Big Brother now 'ey?

    • digid

      Big Brother?

      You should probably re-read Orwell.

      How much do you think went to the artist when you were buying records in the 80s or 90s? Maybe 10-15 percent, the rest went to everyone else.

      Please have some perspective.

    • http://www.tootdotcom.com toot!

      My point is that 30% is a lot to skim off the top for providing the distribution model, especially if they do move towards App Store only purchases.

  • peterkirn

    With Mountain Lion set to default, developers can distribute software without using the App Store. That's really all you need to know.

    • poopooo

      That could be construed as short sighted and perhaps naive. Given the way other apple products work and where apple generates its revenue, the general trend here is towards walled gardens, restricted choice and additional costs for developers and users.

    • peterkirn

      It could be short-sighted and naive, but it's also a statement of fact based on what journalists saw when they tried the OS and what Apple has publicly stated. So I'm inclined to believe the actual facts here, rather than a speculative trend.

    • poopooo

      You can of course do both. State the facts about the current release…and speculate about where Apple might be trying to steer things in the future.

    • peterkirn

      I am. My sense is that this is where Apple is steering things into the future. It's the whole thesis of this article, which people seem to be ignoring. And I think there's strong financial, market, and application development rationales for that argument, backed up by Apple's *explicit* statements to the press this week. I've said for some time that I didn't expect Apple to block non-App-Store software, because that'd be stupid and would alienate their profitable, loyal, critical Mac market. This week's announcement backs up that prediction.

  • axel

    I'd ask myself: What comes after Mountain Lion? The direction this is going looks pretty clear to me. For now, I have Snow Leopard running smoothly on my new Mini. The way Apple is moving will probably drive me away from them sometime in the future.

  • Nathan

    "Microsoft blocking third-party Windows desktop code on ARM. That’s the kind of developer restriction that does make a platform entirely irrelevant for music development"

    Care to elaborate on this? Yes, Microsoft is blocking code that runs on the desktop, but the desktop is only one of the subsystems on windows. Third-party Metro code is welcome (in fact, that's what they're pushing) and it's just as capable as iOS or Android, if not more.

    • http://martin.tornsten.com/ Martin Törnsten

      I agree. This is generally a great and informative site, but like some others here I'm also a bit worried about Peters generally pro Mac/Linux and anti Microsoft slant in his news and "analysis". Especially when he spread facts that is uniformed and plain wrong (like with Windows on ARM). 

      But to get back to the topic I don't see this Apple increased control of software on OS X as negative. I think they will continue to go in this direction and in the end only approve apps for OS X just like for iOS. I also think that Microsoft will copy this and head in the same direction.

      We are already there with phones and tablets, and why make a difference to desktop computers?

      The positive with this for Apple (and Microsoft) is that they earn money on distribution of software, and the positive for end users is that they get approved software with less risk for virus/malware. A win-win situation IMHO.

    • seancostello

      And what is the "win" for developers in this situation?

      Plus, how much malware actually comes from commercial apps, as sold by the developers? From what I can tell, the vast majority of malware comes from cracked apps, as opposed to malicious developers.

  • http://Transit161.com DGillespie

    @fedpep

    The reason it takes developers a long time to release updates usually has to do with the amount of development work to support changes in the os.  This won’t change based on using the app store for distribution.

    What probably would change if audio developers began using the app store for distribution is that price pressure will increase and overall quality will suffer. I love my ipad and the music apps I have for it, but the number one benefactor of the app store has been apple.

  • Juno

    Apart from making the two operating systems somewhat similar, I haven't found any advantage of Lion over Snow Leopard. The instant saving of work in progress is particularly unhelpful. It doesn't feel like the OS is providing improvements, only changes.

  • Rymf

    Initially, I was of the opinion that the Mac App Store restrictions would be largely irrelevant to pro media app users. With today's announcements I'm starting to reconsider my position.

    Apple has effectively put developers in a position to either completely rewrite their apps, ditching features that conflict with Apple's new policies along the way, or exclude themselves from Mac App Store distribution. On it's face, that's not so bad. Most everyone reading this is perfectly capable of purchasing/downloading software directly from the developer and installing it themselves, and I'm sure companies like Ableton and Native Instruments are perfectly happy to keep all the proceeds rather than pay the 30% Apple tithe.

    Where I get hung up is when developers are prevented from integrating features that are increasingly becoming a central part of the OS X experience because their software doesn't meet MAS requirements. Why should pro audio (or video, or graphics, or whatever) developers be excluded from iCloud file sharing/mirroring? Because their software utilizes plugins? Why are the two conflated in the first place? DAW installers tend to be enormous files, delta updates sure would be a nice change, but that's a no go as well.

    When you start to consider the changes that would have to be made to meet the MAS conditions, things get even weirder. Apps can't just scan a library folder for installed plugins, each one must be manually authorized by the user *in each app*. If you're like me, and you bounce between several plugin hosts and have a few dozen VSTs and AUs installed, we're talking about tens or hundreds of manual authorizations. It hardly seems worth the effort.

    And what about plugins which themselves host plugins? Imagine a hypothetical situation where all the software we know and love is submitted and approved for MAS distribution. You open your DAW, and insert an instance of Reaktor (or Maschine, or Numerology, or any other similar plugin). Then you open another virtual instrument inside that. Do you now have nested sandboxes? How will it affect latency/performance? Is it even possible to begin with?

    I hate iLoks and refuse to use them or any software which requires them, but that would likely be another MAS sticking point. If you want/need to use Waves plugins, and waves sticks with iLok, are those plugins now incompatible with any host downloaded from the App Store? How could that possibly be construed as a benefit to users?

    Then comes the whole GateKeeper issue. I'm not the conspiracy theory type, I'm generally an Apple supporter and don't believe they would go too far out of their way to spite their customers, but I'm very concerned that down the road that default option of "Mac App Store or Signed applications only" becomes a default of "Mac App Store only" and perhaps eventually ceases to be a user configurable option at all. Obviously pure speculation, but before today's announcement I didn't have these concerns. Now I do.

    • mar

      How about just waiting until Apple actually fucks up, before freaking out?

      Apple wants a safe App store for Kids, Grandmas and the casual user
      who just wants to edit some fotos etc.
      OSX is not going to be malware free forever.

    • Blob

      Yes, no point in freaking out, but Rymf's concerns are understandable.

      The Gatekeeper feature strikes me as a bit odd, and there is every possibility that someone at Apple decides that the App store should be the default option in the future. I doubt Apple will lock down completely – if they do, they will be shooting themselves in the foot. An increasing number of creative applications (for audio, video, and image) and programming tools are becoming platform-independent.

      They would increase profits with the kids-family audience, but creative professionals would be driven away and start using Windows (or even Linux in some specific cases).

    • mar

      "An increasing number of creative applications (…) are becoming platform-independent. "Most have been from the get-go actually and quite a number are windows only…Windows marketshare is close to 90%. So it's not like you couldn't  go elsewhere.
      Gatekeeper/Sandbox are security features.There is no way they could be that stupid to sacrifice billions of dollars for the measly profits of the app store.

  • mercury

    i wish native instruments would end up in the app store. god when i think about all the complaints about the app store i think of the weeks of time wasted just trying to install a stupid native instruments product that has amazing sound and HORRIFIC installation process, maybe they should charge NI 50% to use their app store just to distribute their apps. 

  • http://www.bassling.com bassling

    “With Mountain Lion set to default, developers can distribute software without using the App Store. That’s really all you need to know.”

    They’re really going to have to work with the marketing department to make a compelling sales-pitch.

  • gigi

    How is Windows ARM different from an iPad? Both are locked down and you can only install apps through the store. And creative developers didn't ignore the iPad, au contraire.

  • JonYo

    I don’t have an problem with the changes coming in OS X 10.8, as others have said, you aren’t required to get your software in the app store, and you can just turn off the “only allow signed apps” stuff. The worry I have is that when I put the info about these new changes together with all the past events that have led the OS development this far, and extrapolate from there, I really don’t like where the OS might be going. Note that I said *might*! Yes, I know it’s only speculation on my part, and yes, I don’t really *know* for sure anything about the future of the OS, but a few less-than-wonderful possibilities are:

    1. By OS X 10.9 or 10.10, the switch for allowing only signed apps / only apps from the app store is gone, first allowing only signed apps and apps from the app store, and then a few OS revisions later, ONLY mac app store apps, just like the current iOS model. Apple takes their (extremely UNreasonable in my opinion) 30% cut of every sale, which steers the dev world in an iOS app store direction in a few ways: more dinky does-one-thing-only apps that are dead cheap with the devs hoping for massive volume, and the overhead of Apple’s 30% discouraging bigger more adventurous apps. How would cross-platform devs like Ableton or Propellerhead or Cubase feel about the OS X side of their development if the only way to distribute meant jacking up their price to account for Apple’s cut, putting their pricing way out of sync their their Windows’ versions, or just making way less on their OS X version?

    2. I fear the Finder is eventually going to be abandoned because of Apple’s seeming desire to get the user away from any direct UI for the file system. I think icloud syncing of docs and such is fine, but I am not some grandma newbie user, I want to access files directly and manipulate them in the apps *I* choose, not what the OS tells me is the right app to use. Again, OS X 10.8 isn’t going to change that, but the iOS-ification os OS X makes me wonder if that’s where things are going a few more OS revs down the line.

  • Roberto Briceño

    But i think that having already good OS's installed on our pro machines and good software running on them at this stage of freakin' update speeds you can allways choose to remain using that OS and not upgrading until you feel you need another computer. Then you get the last at the right time and i'm almost sure that there will allways be something that permits a kind of backward compatibility in OSX systems

  • peterkirn

    I added some clarification on the Windows ARM issue, as an issue of new development models for operating systems. From the text:

    Part of why this matters is that Microsoft's Metro and managed code frameworks make it difficult to port code from other environments. It's not just that they're preventing you from shoehorning desktop code onto their ARM mobile platform – that much would perhaps make sense. It's the absence of native code development tools and necessary frameworks, even relative to Android (which has been roundly criticized for the absence of things like serious low-latency audio APIs). So I mean that the absence of desktop code tools are just the latest in a series of frustrations with Windows on ARM.

    Anyway, I don't mean to change the subject here; I just mean in terms of the relative import of new OS announcements. 

    • http://martin.tornsten.com/ Martin Törnsten

      Peter, I think you are totally wrong informed about this whole Windows 8 issue.

      Both on Windows Phone and Windows 8 allows you to develop C/C++ native compiled applications. Most apps normal apps will probably be developed in some managed code or HTML 5, but hard core applications like games, heavy graphical apps and multimedia will probably be best developed with C/C++ for full control and full performance.

      Here is a view of Windows 8 different layers and development models:&nbsp ;http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-01-29-43/2626.Win8-WinRT-Architecture.png

      For full information, especially with regards to Win8 om ARM, read this article: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/09/bui

    • http://martin.tornsten.com/ Martin Törnsten

      Peter, I think you are totally wrong informed about this whole Windows 8 issue.

      Both on Windows Phone and Windows 8 allows you to develop C/C++ native compiled applications. Most apps normal apps will probably be developed in some managed code or HTML 5, but hard core applications like games, heavy graphical apps and multimedia will probably be best developed with C/C++ for full control and full performance.

      Here is a view of Windows 8 different layers and development models: http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communi

      For full information, especially with regards to Win8 om ARM, read this article: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/09/bui

    • http://martin.tornsten.com/ Martin Törnsten

      Sorry for the double post.

  • Paul

    Its a shame some folk don't read the article Peter wrote before they actually respond to it.. :(

    Anyways.. Although I appreciate the reassurances.. I think the insecurities and concerns come from the fact that 10.7 and now 10.8 are introducing a lot of iPadification to a desktop OS. Not that I have anything against iPads and iPhones etc.. On the contrary, I quite like them. But I do prefer that each are clear cut devices/OS's in their own right.
    The problem here is that Apple have much to brag about how 'consumerised' and user (read, "n00b") friendly their new OS's are, but pro orientated talk has been conspicuous in its absence, and has been for a while. 

    For example.. Twitter integration.. Ugh.. Isn't Twitter dead yet!? What about stuff for the pro creative people!? You know, the very thing Macs were supposed to be better at. Is there anything at all in 10.8 that would interest, say, a Logic user? Ok, lets not cut out the graphics and video guys.. Final cut pro? Adobe CS??
    No, It's iPad this, Swipe that, Tweet here and all kinds of social integration. Not that im anti social or anything.. But.. 

    There has been a distinct shift. Macs were the tools to make the content. Now it's the tool to get you to buy and use the content in the most convenient swipetastic way possible.

    • http://zeroreference.blogspot.com zeroreference

      "There has been a distinct shift. Macs were the tools to make the content. Now it's the tool to get you to buy and use the content in the most convenient swipetastic way possible."

      Yes.  People still make (a lot) of content on them, but it does appear they are becoming more of a consumer item.

  • gigi

    I'm not sure what you've been reading, but Windows ARM does have full native code support (but the tools will only run on Windows x86/x64). You also have Direct3D 11 and XAudio 2, which are low-level high performance media APIs, also used on the XBox. So you can develop serious software, albeit in the Metro format. You can also use C++ if you wish, the whole platform is not managed. In fact, they recommend using C++ or HTML5 instead of C# for creating Metro applications.

    We don't know yet what sort of audio latency Windows ARM devices will have, but if it will be bad, the problem won't be on the API side, it will be on the driver/hardware level.

  • http://rfieldin.appspot.com Rob Fielding

    Because you, as a developer, spend years learning Apple-specific APIs, there is no malware that could be worth the risk of losing the ability to get a certificate; especially because you would like to have a bank account to deposit sales into.  Without these carrots and sticks, the platform will eventually succumb to malware plagues that have dogged Windows for so long, and seem to be a problem for Android .  The main issue I have with the direction they go in locking things down is this: what happens when you create a perfectly reasonable app that Apple won't let you sell through the store (ie: using iPhone/iPad's pressure-sense APIs – the issue of using wonderful-but-private functionality), or being able to distribute outside the store to more than 100 devices. 

  • http://martin.tornsten.com/ Martin Törnsten

    Peter, I think you are totally wrong informed about this whole Windows 8 issue.

    Both on Windows Phone and Windows 8 allows you to develop C/C++ native compiled applications. Most apps normal apps will probably be developed in some managed code or HTML 5, but hard core applications like games, heavy graphical apps and multimedia will probably be best developed with C/C++ for full control and full performance.

    Here is a view of Windows 8 different layers and development models: http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communi

    For full information, especially with regards to Win8 om ARM, read this article: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/09/bui

    • peterkirn

      I owe you an apology. "Biased" would be generous; "wrong" would be more accurate.

      I've updated the story above. I'll circle back on this issue. 

      It would be better if this were my mistake alone, but I was misinformed partly because this appears to me to have been widely mis-reported or distorted. But that isn't making an excuse for me; I usually try to do my own first-hand reporting, and I didn't here, and bringing it up in a story on a different OS was irresponsible. Nor does repeating a mischaracterization when the reality is documented on the developer blog.

      I think the better approach will be to do my homework and actually give an overview of where these different APIs now stand, at least as a starting point for further discussion. (Sinofsky, of course, isn't going to talk about Android, etc.)

  • anonymouscoward

    What should be a headline is what Apple is doing to quicktime.  It has started with a repalcement for the compression framework in Mountain Lion, will probably cascade to a full quicktime replacement by 10.9

  • http://8gb.kikencorp.com akira^8GB

    Hmmm… if they are dropping the Mac name… are the computers going to be named “Book Pro”, “i”, “Pro” and “Mini”? :P  

  • http://zeroreference.blogspot.com zero reference

    Great article Peter. I still can't fight the intuition (first formed when all the film folk complained about Final Cut X) that, utlimately, creatively professionals are best served by open source tools. Then, they have complete control over their tools. Obviously, you are not arguing againt that in this article! Indeed, my whole comment is a tangent. Following on said tangent, I do love OS X though, and will be loath to abandon it until some interface and interaction designers get in the open source game……or until I have some time on my hands to put together a Linux rig and play around with it.

  • amoebaSIX

    i’ve stayed with 10.6 because it’s pretty damn stable. plus, i didn’t care for the direction 10.7 was going, and i am a little concerned about this iOSification of OS X. but at the same time, i give credit to apple for being pretty business savvy about it all. i recently read they have sold more iOS devices in 2011 than all Macs put together in the last 28 years. they are obviously smart and successful. i think their shareholders are pretty happy. but of course us geeky power users are sweating this ‘dumbing down’ a bit. yet here’s why i am not getting too concerned about us getting shut out: the devs will always be needed. always. that means i don’t think there will ever be a 100% lockdown thru the App Store, nor will the file system disappear, nor will we see a full iOSification of OS [X] without a non-granny option. i mean, what, will we have to write mac apps from Windows boxes? if things get as horrific as some are predicting, i think there will probably be a ‘Pro’ fork of the OS for the power nerds.

  • mar

    @seancostello
    “Plus, how much malware actually comes from commercial apps, as sold by the developers?”

    Zero and that is the whole point!
    “Malicious developers” will not apply for a certificate because it will be revoked.

    So if you think you need the security because your children/parents could be tricked into installing malware, this will help.
    Same with cracked apps. Since they have to be changed to be malware, they would have to be signed from the original author again.

  • mar

    @seancostelloAnd what is the “win” for developers in this situation?

    The market grows because less tech-savvy can safely use the computer and buy software. 

  • http://twitter.com/omartint Martin Törnsten

    Thanks Peter for the correction and update regarding native code on WOA.