June 26, 2012, 9:55 AM — Apple will boost the frequency of security updates in OS X Mountain Lion and automatically install required patches for users, steps that bring it into line with Microsoft's practices.
In an update Monday to Mountain Lion's Developer Preview 4, Apple supplied what it called "Security Test Update Test 1.0." As the name implied, the update was a test of Mountain Lion's new security infrastructure, which presumably was put into place earlier.
Several Apple-specific blogs, including MacRumors, reported on the update and posted screenshots of the accompanying text that described it to developers and testers.
According to the update's description, Mountain Lion checks for security updates daily -- a frequency increase from the weekly checks that are the default in previous editions of OS X -- and will install those updates automatically for the user, either at the time they're downloaded or at a machine restart.
By comparison, Leopard and later will only download updates and notify users when they're available. It's up to users, however, to install security and feature updates.
Apple also said it beefed up the security of the connections between customers' Macs and its update servers, hinting at the same kind of improvement in encryption that Microsoft made this month after Flame, an advanced super-spy kit, was found to fake Windows Update downloads.
The security changes in Mountain Lion bring OS X to parity with Windows, which has long checked for patch updates daily, and which by default automatically downloads and installs those updates for users.
Security experts will probably applaud: Most have argued that the less users are asked to do, the more likely they are to keep their machines up-to-date.