Apple users downloaded the OS X Mountain Lion operating system more than three million times in just its first four days. In a news release Apple stated the OS’ popularity made it the most successful release in its history.

Mountain Lion’s success is due in part to the simplicity and reliability for which Apple systems have long been known. But some 200 new features don’t hurt either, including:

  • AirPlay Mirroring refinements improve sending what’s on a Mac display to a larger monitor connected to an Apple TV.
  • Auto Save makes it easier to protect data from accidental loss and makes it possible to change the name of a file from directly within the title bar.
  • Sharing is now built in to many Mountain Lion apps.
  • A new date picker enables easier changing of event dates within Calendar, while Notification Center displays information for new emails, messages and event reminders, among other notifications.
  • Mountain Lion supports Dictation, enabling OS X users to enter text using their voice by leveraging the microphone built in to their Macs.
  • Gatekeeper helps protect against malware infections
  • iCloud improvements make it easier to set up and manage files “in the cloud.”

Other improvements include encrypted messaging, Notes synchronization across multiple devices, and more robust Reminders.

The OS’ reviews are consistent. Numerous sites bestow high ratings on the release, while Macworld awards Mountain Lion 4.5 out of 5 “Mice.” With almost 10,000 consumer reviews, the release more than holds its own with a solid four out of five star rating. Even ranks the OS high, awarding an Excellent four-and-a-half out of five to Apple’s new OS.

Business trends

It’s telling that, in a tough economy, Apple’s revenues continue impressing Wall Street. The company’s third quarter results revealed the company sold 17 million iPads and four million Macs. Those sales helped fuel quarterly net profit of $8.8 billion. Microsoft, meanwhile, was busy announcing a quarterly loss of $492 million.

To be fair, it was Redmond’s first loss ever as a public company, but it’s no secret PC manufacturers have been struggling. Businesses are increasingly turning to Apple products, whether it’s for Smartphones, laptops, desktops, or tablet computers.

Apple’s market value ($592 billion) now exceeds that of Microsoft ($252 billion), Dell ($21 billion) and HP ($38 billion) combined. Combined. Think about that. Heck, you could even add heavyweight IBM to the PC companies’ mix ($226 billion) and Apple still exceeds the value of all those companies combined.

That’s impressive.

Apple’s figured out what business users require: powerful, capable, reliable products that are easy to use and that make data available across multiple devices without requiring a rocket science degree. Even anecdotally the manufacturer’s popularity is growing. While numerous surveys award Apple only minority market share, at a recent non-technology-related management conference with hundreds of business users present I noted fully half of the laptops and tablets attendees were using were Macs or iPads. More importantly, many of the Windows machines I saw were inexpensive, sub $500 units, a segment in which Apple doesn’t even bother competing. Certainly, Apple technologies are enjoying increased adoption among business executives and managers.

Expect more of the same. Microsoft, readying to renew the fight with its new Windows 8 OS, may face a greater challenge than anticipated. Already headlines warn that the OS will prove difficult, proclaiming “Innovative Windows 8 forces steep learning curve.” Apparently only Apple has learned that innovation need not come at the expense of approachability and ease of use.