According to developers, Apple has begun providing them with the "gold master" of Mac OS X 10.8, also known as Mountain Lion. Gold (or golden) master is a term often used by Apple which signifies the final, retail version Mac OS. As such, GM is analogous to Microsoft's RTM (release to manufacturing) milestone. Mac OS X 10.8 is currently available at the OS X Dev Center and the build number is 12A269, according to 9to5Mac.

Although Mountain Lion has officially attained gold master status, a critical issue could prompt Apple to make last-minute changes. Such changes and their resultant delays are unusual but not unheard of.

Barring such a delay though, some technology insiders believe the new OS may be available for public consumption as soon as July 25. This is merely speculation however, based on past releases and upcoming events.

The minimum system requirements for Mountain Lion are simple enough, needing only 2GB of RAM and 8GB of available hard drive space. However, there are reports that a few unlucky Macs may be left behind. Changing how it approaches planned obsolecence, Apple is now explicitly listing Macs which are compatible with Mountain Lion instead of limiting installations based solely on tech specs. In the past, Apple had limited compatibility based primarily on CPU type and speed.

Here is the list of Macs that are compatible with Mountain Lion. If you don't see your Mac here, you're probably out of luck.

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Mountain Lion adds a bevy of new features and improvements, including a new Safari with iCloud syncing, Power Nap, OS-wide dictation, automatic system updates and a Game Center. Upgrades will sell for a wallet-friendly $19.99.