The OS Quest Trail Log #74: New Software Edition

The Future Is Now graphic

July brought a lot of new software even though it was a slow month as far as the post count goes. The beginning of the month was all Synology. Soon after I started looking at some of the Synology apps (not impressed) Synology released the DSM 4.1 beta and I’ve been running that ever since. But not to be forgotten, Apple released Mountain Line (OS X 10.8) and I installed it on my MacBook Air. Sandwiched between those events was Microsoft’s Public Preview for their latest Office Suite. I decided to give Office 365 Home Premium a look.

Like the earlier DSM 4.0 beta which was released shortly after I bought my first Synology NAS, the DSM 4.1 beta has been stable for me. I don’t use a lot of the features, sticking with file storage as it primary purpose. It’s been fine as an iSCSI destination along with basic file  shares. I have been using Photo Station and like it, although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what role it will fill.

Mountain Lion has also been stable on my MacBook Air. I’m still unable to browse my Windows Home Server for shares but can connect to them directly. As I’m writing this my Mac Mini Mountain Lion upgrade just finished and it too has the same share browsing problem. And like the Air, the Mini can browse shares on my Windows 7 machines and the Synology NAS. So I’ll have to plan some time on that problem although I’m not the only one with the problem according to this forum post. I suspect I’ll wait until the first Mountain Lion update to see if it’s resolved then.

I’m still not sure what to think about Mountain Lion. It continues the trend of computers becoming part of an ecosystem. While it’s not real lock in, the Gatekeeper security feature and iCloud file system make the ease of use a tempting benefit, but it erodes interoperability. I don’t think Apple’s goal is lock-in, I just think it’s a side-effect of their ease-of-use goal. My own history with Apple’s cloud services makes me hesitant to commit to the iCloud file system but I am giving it a try. I’m just dipping my toe in – a year from now I may find a better app and find I need need a forklift to get a years worth of data out of iCloud.

Out of all the new software I have to admit that Office 365 Home Premium (and the whole new Office product line) intrigues me the most. I’m skeptical, and expect disappointment, but Microsoft may have done it right this time. And at the right price it may be something I subscribe to personally. I like that SkyDrive is the cloud file system and unlike iCloud it’s easy to get the files out (just sync to a local disk) and do my own backups.

I used the Office 365 Blog template for my previous post. It’s clearly an attempt to replace Live Writer which I still prefer. Word did more than I expected. What I expected was a simple template. Instead it provides blog specific features and can publish the post (or a draft of it) to the blog. The bottom line for me was Live Writer had more polish but the Word blog template has promise.

Which new software are you excited about – Windows 8, Mountain Lion, DSM 4.1, Office, Microsoft’s new servers, none of them?