Apple CEO Tim Cook just left the stage at the company’s WorldWide Developer Conference down in San Francisco. Apple used the WWDC keynote to unveil the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, and announced plans to release Mountain Lion, the next version of Mac OS X, next month as a $19.99 upgrade.

That timing of the Mountain Lion release puts an interesting twist into the longstanding competition between Apple and Microsoft, which is expected to release Windows 8 in the coming months. Apple is focusing on steady improvements in Mountain Lion, such as Twitter and Facebook integration and a new Notification Center for OS X and app alerts.

Microsoft, in contrast, will be asking users to learn a new user interface with Windows 8, as the company seeks to make its operating system work across tablets and traditional personal computers. The Redmond company issued the Windows 8 Release Preview at the end of last month but hasn’t yet given an official release date.

In the realm of video games, Apple will be trying its own hand at something that Microsoft has attempted in the past. The company is bringing Game Center from iOS to OS X with the Mountain Lion release, promising multiplayer gaming across its computers and devices, including iPhone and iPad.

The company says Facebook integration will be added in a future software update to Mountain Lion. Here are the details from Apple’s news release.

“With built-in support for Facebook, you can post photos, links and comments with locations right from your apps. Once you’ve signed in, your Facebook friends automatically appear in Contacts with their profile photos. Your Facebook notifications work with Notification Center in Mountain Lion, and you can even update your Facebook status from within Notification Center.”

Apple also unveiled an overhauled MacBook Pro lineup, making the notebooks thinner and adding retina displays — but targeting them to the high end of the market, starting at $2,199 for one with a 15.4-inch screen.

New features in iOS 6 include deep Facebook integration; a custom-built 3D mapping solution; commitments from major automakers to put Siri buttons on steering wheels; a new “Passbook” app for quickly accessing boarding passes and tickets; and smaller touches such as the ability to quickly respond to incoming calls with preset messages.

The new Apple mapping application marks a break from Google Maps, used in past versions of iOS. It comes with turn-by-turn directions and a flyover feature based on 3D photographic models of major cities.

More: Live blogs from gdgt, Engadget, and Gizmodo.

Apple news releases:

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  • Guest

    Congratulations to Apple on completing Mountain Lion! It’s going to be a “gr8″ summer for operating system users, if you get what I mean.

  • Josh Ledgard

    It’s really a dual OS versus a dual purpose OS.  Apple is betting that most people only need a smartphone/tablet optimized OS… and they’ll sell some computers with OSX to a few content creators and developers. 

    Microsoft is betting that one design/OS can stretch across any device.   

    If Microsoft had hardware as nice as an iPad I’d bet on the single experience winning out. But, sadly, most of the Microsoft partner hardware will be terrible and the single experience will suffer for it without getting a chance to shine. 

    • Forrest

      There’s too huge of a gap between uses for a “single experience” to work for all. Windows 8 still isn’t going to offer a “single experience”. 

    • Guest

      I think it’s less of a technical bet and more of a market reality one. At 5% worldwide share, Apple had lost the PC war (even though it has made steady share gains since Vista). So it was a no-brainer to rebrand iPhone OS (OS X) to iOS, put all their wood behind that arrow, and push the “it’s all the OS you really need” pitch. There might even some truth to it technically, at least for many consumers and even casual business users. Likewise, no surprise that MS chose to “reimagine” Windows rather than getting behind something totally different like WP or OS_next.

      Agree that hardware will be a challenge for MS. But so will apps, third party hardware and support, etc. etc. It’s a battle of ecosystems, and Apple’s is now more formidable and has more momentum than MS’s.

      It’s truly astounding the competitive reversal and loss of position that has occurred in just over a decade during Ballmer’s watch.

      • ScientificBob

        “It’s truly astounding the competitive reversal and loss of position that has occurred in just over a decade during Ballmer’s watch”
        Almost 600 million activated licenses of Windows 7 and counting, making it the fastest and best selling OS since… ever.
        In the same period, that hyped iPad has sold 60 million copies, and that includes all different versions.
        This is not the succesfull product the media is trying to make it out to be.
        If win8 tablets sell “as bad as vista”, it will have double the iPad market share. And those numbers would be considered an embarassment for a new microsoft OS. Yet, it would have double the market share of the current “leader”.
        People really should think about this. Apple did not won the tablet war. In reality, the first real battle is about to start. And, frankly, it doesn’t look al that good for apple.

  • Jill Hammond

    I wonder, in moments of boredom, when the Apple sheep will realize they pay more for an inferior product ?They bought Apple to declare their hipness in being  vogue – what to do now?

    • drurichman

      Jill—You’re still driving that Yugo, right? 8^D

      • Yacko

         My money says it is a Trabant.

    • Stefan

      What have you got against sheep?

    • ttringle

      My money says she walks because she’s under the age of 17. Oh and it’s extremely odd to hear something so ignorant supposedly coming from a woman. Thus reenforcing my 14 year old theory.

  • drurichman

    In deference to Jill Hammond, one of the many Windows apologists that know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, please (for the love of G-d) go back to your Asus, Gateway, Dell, or HP computer. Enjoy your ignorance. Leave the rest of us forward thinking people alone. 

    • Guest

      Forward thinking? LOL. The only thing worse than a Windows apologist is an itard.

  • Guest

    The writing has been on the wall for a while. OS X is now legacy for Apple. They’ll continue to do modest updates, but their main focus is iOS (where they have a much stronger competitive position).

    ML looks okay. It should continue to gain share against Windows, maybe even a lot of share if there’s a lot of push-back to W8.

    iOS6 was a bit of a let down, personally. A lot of those things have been available on Android or even WP for a while now.

  • Guest

    I thought the most interesting announcement wasn’t iOS or Mountain Lion but the Siri car deals. Wow! Hasn’t MS been working in that market for over a decade? Didn’t they pay nearly a billion for TellMe? Yet Apple buys Siri for less than $100M and in just over two years becomes synonymous with voice control AND pawns MS in auto. Another market where Apple arrived late and now apparently may have just displaced MS, despite MS being there a decade earlier.

    Related, what is TellMe up to? They’ve had no response to Siri at all. There doesn’t seem to be any next gen TellMe that is part of W8. And their twitter marketing account stopped updating months ago. Are the lights still on there?

    • Guest

      TellMe seems alive and well to me. They sell a product to businesses, not to consumers. Ever spoken to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system? They make those.

      • Guest

        Really? Do you hear anyone talking about them vs Siri? See half a dozen of the major car manufacturers lining up behind Tellme vs Siri? See anyone buying WP because its speech recognition is so far ahead of anyone else?

        Selling to businesses is and always was only one part of what they do. At the time MS made the purchase, 2007, they were already pushing their mobile apps to do pretty much what Siri does today, and that was the vision and potential Raikes touted. They’re also integrated into XBL.

        MS already had more than a decade and a half of significant speech investments before acquiring TellMe. And TellMe was considered by many to be *the” leader in speech recognition. MS even created a separate business unit, similar to what they have done with Skype, that was supposed to avoid the pitfalls of previous MS’s acquisition failures and allow TellMe to keep out in front. They didn’t. Apple got more, faster, and for far less investment.

        • Guest

          Ouch! I hope Microsoft can get more out of TellMe since not everyone seems satisfied with the ROI so far.

          • Guest

            Has MS secured a positive ROI on any acquisition? The more frequent process appears to be:

            a) make bold claims about future synergies to try and offset analyst/investor unhappiness with the otherwise unjustifiable price being paid
            b) subsequently take years to do what was initially promised would take months
            c) lose whatever advantage relative to competitors that entity originally had in the process
            d) move on, while never revisiting the original goals and promised synergies and hope everyone forgets how much money was lost

            Rinse. Repeat.

          • Guest

            That’s not a good process. How would you improve it?

          • Guest

            No kidding. I’d start improving it by:

            1) Firing the CEO who has allowed it to become institutionalized
            2) Hiring a competent replacement
            3) Mandating that every acquisition requires an upfront justification that is credible, can be defended, and against which progress will be judged annually until a positive ROI is achieved (or failure declared), with the original sponsoring senior executives on the hook for achieving promised results. No more moving, changing, “forgetting” the original goal posts while moving on to the next failure.

          • Guest

            That’s a pretty good strategy — I like it! What makes for a “competent replacement”? If you were able to make such a decision, who would you install as the CEO of the company that will bring us Windows 8 this summer? What qualifies a person to run Microsoft?

            Additionally, what happens if “failure declared” on your new exec’s acquisition? How would you define “failure”?

            I find this discussion quite mentally nourishing and I know the readers of GeekWire do too. Let’s keep the juices flowing!

          • Guest

            Basically the opposite of Ballmer would be a great start. Someone who doesn’t just talk year after year about investing for the future, or improving agility, innovation, marketing, or product release cadence, but actually does it. Someone with some (any?) strategic aptitude, capable of setting the competitive agenda for a change instead of constantly underestimating competitors or failing to anticipate their next move (no matter how obvious to everyone else) and then having MS flail around in desperation for YEARS trying to respond. A CEO capable of inspiring employees and creating a sense of confidence in the company’s future (internally and externally). And someone who can compete against Apple successfully, which clearly Ballmer has been totally incapable of doing.

          • Guest

            How would you test a candidate’s strategic aptitude? How do you prove delivery of results? Can you name any persons who you believe would pass your test and would be good candidates for CEO of Microsoft? Who, in your opinion, is the “opposite of [Steve] Ballmer”?

            Let’s not have Microsoft end up like Egypt. The disgruntled can call for the ouster of the person in charge, but unless a suitable replacement is found, chaos shall reign.

  • Harrij

    I am a fanatic computer expert and can say from experience Mac Osx is superior to Windows. It never breaks down. Uninstalling is simple while windows leaves parts all over the system. Con of a Mac is the system price which is high . This is something any user has to decide for himself. But for me Mac is my best bet.

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