Apple Mountain Lion OS Offers Features for Small Businesses

Apple's latest OS, Mountain Lion, offers small businesses several features to boost productivity and social networking.

Although Microsoft€™s Windows operating system is still used in the vast majority of businesses, creative professionals and those working in design industries are partial to Apple computers and the operating system, and small and midsize businesses are increasingly adopting it for their own devices, particularly Apple€™s mobile operating system, iOS, as use of the iPad tablet has exploded among small businesses.

With the release of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple€™s latest version of their OS, there are a host of updated features that can serve midmarket companies well. The software update, which is available as a download from the Mac App Store for $19.99, requires Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later), 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space, and is available at no additional charge from the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an authorized Apple reseller on or after June 11.

Chief among these are productivity enhancements to the Notification Center, which streamlines the presentation of notifications and provides access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third-party apps, as well as iCloud integration, for the setup of those applications, in addition to keeping everything, including iWork documents, up-to-date across all a company€™s devices, including the iPad. The Dictation application allows users to dictate text anywhere the user can type, whether using an app from Apple or a third-party developer.

With IT departments growing increasingly concerned about malware disrupting (or shutting down) the network, Apple€™s new Gatekeeper platform, which makes downloading software from the Internet safer, could be of interest to small businesses with limited IT resources. On the communications front, Apple€™s all-new Messages app, which replaces iChat and brings iMessage to the Mac, allows users to send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or another Mac, a boon for companies that are increasingly reliant on instant collaboration and messaging to run their operations.

Rounding out the software update is a system-wide Sharing application, to make it easier to share files and media content without having to switch to another app; the update also features one-time sign-on and integration with social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo. With small businesses increasingly reliant on social media to save on advertising costs and drum up new business, Apple has responded to this need with enhanced Facebook integration, which now includes the ability to post photos, links and comments with locations from third-party applications and automatically add Facebook friends to Contacts, as well as update the company€™s Facebook status from within the Notification Center.