Between Lion and Mountain Lion, Apple is cramming OS X with ideas borrowed from iOS: the Launchpad, the App Store, full-screen mode, AirPlay, Messages, Notes, Reminders and much more. It’s also making iOS-like gestures, which you perform on Macs’ oversized touch pads, more and more important.
But for all the sweeping iOS influence, Apple is leaving plenty of stuff alone. OS X’s Dock, desktop, menu bar and windows are largely untouched in Mountain Lion. That’s both good and bad: They remain utterly familiar, but you might be sorry that Apple didn’t give them more TLC if the company’s fascination with iOS-ification doesn’t appeal to you.
And then there’s Windows 8. With the touch-centric Metro interface, Microsoft is starting from scratch. It’s built a radically new look and feel and added new features, and expects developers and users to make a great leap forward. Support for old-school Windows is still there, but it’s been shunted off to one side. It’s a necessary acknowledgement that Microsoft couldn’t simply do away with the Windows we’ve known for 26 years overnight.