PhotoApple today revealed the next generation of Mac OS X, to be known as "Mountain Lion," and released it to developers. The software, which takes many of its cues from the iPad, will take on Microsoft's Windows 8 when it arrives later this year.

The software, version 10.8, will arrive via download. Like its predecessor, Lion, Mountain Lion will further shrink the gap between Mac OS and iOS, incorporating more iOS features into the Mac interface. 

New features include "Messages," which will replace iChat, as well as further integration with iCloud.

“The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The developer preview of Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the incredibly successful release of Lion and sets a rapid pace of development for the world’s most advanced personal computer operating system.”

The developer preview of Mountain Lion introduces Gatekeeper, a revolutionary security feature that helps keep consumers safe from malicious software by giving them complete control over what apps are installed on their Mac.

The preview release of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting today. Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

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