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Apple ships final OS X Mountain Lion to developers

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Apple on Monday released a "golden master" of OS X Mountain Lion to developers, putting the impending operating program on track to reach buyers this month.

"Golden master," or GM, is often a label some developers apply to software that is definitely ready, or almost ready, for shipping. Rival Microsoft calls exactly the same milestone "release to manufacturing," or RTM, designating that the code is appropriate for pc makers to install on new machines.

The look on the Apple developer website of Mountain Lion's golden master was reported Monday afternoon by several Apple-centric blogs, like 9to5Mac, and later confirmed by Computerworld.

Its debut indicates that the on-sale date for Mountain Lion is most likely in between two and three weeks away.

Final year, Apple issued the golden master of OS X Lion on July 1, then launched the operating program 19 days later on July 20. In 2009, the pause between OS X Snow Leopard's final version and its retail availability was somewhat shorter, 16 days.

The only official word from Apple therefore far is the fact that Mountain Lion will hit the Mac App Store, its sole distribution channel, this month. Based on the company's past practice, such as last year's surprise announcement at an earnings call that Lion would launch the following day -- and with that quarterly call slated for July 24 this year -- Computerworld has pegged the most most likely ship date as Wednesday, July 25.

Coincidentally, that would place the span amongst the final version's release and going on-sale at 16 days, the same number as for Snow Leopard.

Consumers operating Snow Leopard or Lion can upgrade to the new edition, which will probably be priced at $19.99, a 33% discount compared to 2011's Lion.

Users concerned about application compatibility can verify the website RoaringApps, which lists the Mac applications that work with Mountain Lion's earlier builds, these that do not and also the ones that balk in some way.

Applications which have been tested typically incorporate users' comments that present extra details on what worked and what did not on Mountain Lion.

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