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Apple's Mac OS X Mountain Lion available now; Post-June 10 Mac buyers get it free

Apple has officially announced that Mac OS X Mountain Lion, the ninth major desktop operating system release by the company, is available for download from July 25. The confirmation came from Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company's third quarter earnings call yesterday.

Although the update can be purchased from the Mac App store for $19.99 (Rs 1,122), it will be available free of cost through an 'Up-To-Date' upgrade programme for all buyers who have purchased Mac systems (MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, etc.) from Apple or an Apple-authorised reseller on or after June 11, 2012.

Eligible customers will have to make their 'Up-To-Date' requests within 30 days, starting from today. Those who buy Mac systems after July 25, will have a 30-day period from the date of purchase to make the Up-To-Date request.

Apple had first released a developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion in February this year and the company claims that it will bridge the gap between iOS and the Mac operating system. Mountain Lion comes with more than 200 new features and the key ones include:

Notification Center: Allows you to view all notifications from OS X and third party apps at one place. You can customise which apps send you notifications, types of notification you would like to receive and how many items they will be shown. You can also choose to suspend all notifications temporarily.

New Messages app: This will replace the traditional iChat app and bring iMessage to Macs. With iMessage, Mac users will be able to send messages to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and other Macs. You can also include attachments, photos and videos with your message. iMessage will also include group messaging, delivery & read receipts and typing indicators. Just like iChat, the new messages app will also support traditional IM services like AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk and Jabber.

iCloud: With an iCloud account, users will be able to set up their mail, contacts, calendars, messages, reminders and notes. Since iCloud keeps the latest version of the documents, when you edit a document on one device (Mac, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch), the changes will appear across all your devices.

Built-in support for Facebook: Users can post photos, links and comments with locations right from the app. Also, Facebook notifications are displayed at the notification center and you can even update your Facebook status from the notification center itself.

System-wide Sharing: The 'Share' button can be found throughout OS X Mountain Lion and it allows sharing right from the app you are using. Clicking the 'Share' button allows you to share without switching to another app and you only need to sign in once to use third-party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo.

Dictation: Allows you to dictate text anywhere you can type – whether you are using an app from Apple or a third-party developer.

Power Nap: Keeps your MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air (second and third generation) up to date while it sleeps. Power Nap automatically refreshes mail, contacts, calendar, reminders, notes, photo stream, Find My Mac and documents in the Cloud, and when charging, downloads software updates and backs up your Mac using Time Machine.

Gatekeeper: Makes downloading software from the Internet safer by giving you control over which apps can be installed on your Mac. You can choose to install apps from anywhere or, for maximum security, you can set Gatekeeper to allow only apps from the Mac App Store. The default setting allows you to install apps from the Mac App Store and apps from developers who have unique Developer IDs from Apple.

Game Center: The popular social gaming network from iOS is now on the Mac. It allows users to play multiplayer games with friends whether they are on Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Faster Safari: Comes with a unified smart search field iCloud tabs, which presents your open tabs across your devices and a new tab view to quickly swipe through them.

A complete list of features can be found here. For updating to Mountain Lion, Macs will require OS X v10.6.8 or later, 2 GB of memory and 8 GB of available space.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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