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Mountain Lion roars off to record start

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(Read caption) Apple exec Craig Federighi discusses the Mountain Lion OS in late June. Mountain Lion is off to a roaring start, according to Apple.

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Last week, Apple launched Mountain Lion, the successor to its Lion desktop OS. Mountain Lion is less a radical overhaul than a series of tweaks and upgrades: witness the iOS-like Game Center, a Notification Center, and the Messages platform, which is cribbed directly from the iPhone and iPad. The whole package costs $19.99 and is available via the Mac App Store. 

And according to Apple, it's already a smash hit. 

"Just a year after the incredibly successful introduction of Lion, customers have downloaded Mountain Lion over three million times in just four days, making it our most successful release ever," Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a press statement. (Not that Lion, which was released last July, sold particularly sluggishly: Apple unloaded a million copies of that OS in a single day.) 

Mountain Lion, which brings Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems one more step closer together, was greeted warmly by critics. 

"Apple's latest operating system simply cleans house, clearing clutter, while bringing more cloud and sharing features into the fold – specifically to make the desktop play nice with iOS devices," wrote Jason Parker of CNET. "Ultimately," Parker added, "what you get is the familiar layout of Apple's operating system and much less of a learning curve than with what we've seen so far of Windows 8's completely new touch-screen-focused interface."

Of course, as Parker noted, Mountain Lion will soon square off against Microsoft's Windows 8 OS. Like Mountain Lion, Windows 8 incorporates many features from the mobile world – including, in the case of Windows 8, a touch-compatible interface and a tiled display. (And wave goodbye to that start button.) Windows 8 is in beta now; a full launch is scheduled for later this year. 

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