Today, Apple released the first developer preview of the next step in OS X, Mountain Lion. First, let me say that Apple has once again proven it can work on software for months without a peep, then just let it loose to the surprise of everyone.
It brings more iOS features to the desktop. Messages replaces iChat, Calendar replaces iCal, Contacts replaces Address Book, and adds Notes and Reminders as separate apps. All of this is consistent with Apple's push to integrate the computer and the mobile. All of these apps (as well as new document-creation apps) will use iCloud to sync between computers and mobiles.
In Mountain Lion, Reminders are taken out of the calendar and Notes are taken out of Mail. They are separate, just like they should be. New App Store apps on the Mac will have the choice to save in traditional file system folders, or in a simplified iCloud interface.
One thing bothers me, as Gruber points out:
I’m interested to see how developer support for Mac App Store-only features plays out. Two big ones: iCloud document storage and Notification Center. Both of these are slated only for third-party apps from the Mac App Store. Many developers, though, have been maintaining non-Mac App Store versions of their apps.
This could get very expensive. I am a HUGE user of the Omni Apps. I use OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle, and OmniPlan extensively and daily. I bought these apps long before the Mac App Store existed. Thankfully, the fine folks at OmniGroup keep update in parity between App Store and in-the-wild versions of the software. By Apple only allowing iCloud and Notification Center to App Store Apps, I will need to re-purchase $400-$500 in Apps so that notifications show up on my desktop. This seems a bit anti-consumer and anti-developer, especially when alternate notification systems, like Growl, are available for nominal cost.