After Beta, Messages to Be OS X Mountain Lion-Only
If you have been appreciating the ability to tinker around with iMessage on your Mac using Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, then be prepared to make the jump to OS X Mountain Lion when it is released. It has been exposed by Consomac that as soon as the beta period for Messages for Mac expires, Messages will be an OS X Mountain Lion-exclusive. Many of us probably saw this coming already as Apple enjoys pushing its users to the latest updates whenever they can.
As the beta ends, Messages will fade away from the Mac OS X Lion community killing off all of its functionality. As the screenshot above shows, when Apple is ready to make Messages an OS X Mountain Lion-exclusive, a prompt message will pop up stating, "Thank you for participating in the Messages Beta program. With the inclusion of Messages in OS X Mountain Lion, the Messages Beta program has ended. To continue using Messages, please visit the Mac App Store and purchase OS X Mountain Lion."
This morsel of news actually answers two of our principal questions. Not only will Messages end up rendered useless on older operating systems, however Apple also gives away in this key that they plan to sell OS X Mountain Lion for a price in the Mac App Store and it will not be a free update. We have yet to find out what the pricing will be, but if it mirrors the digital download of Mac OS X Lion, $29.99 is a good guess.
This action is the exact opposite of what happened when FaceTime for Mac was released. In the release of FaceTime for Mac, the application was obtainable as a digital download in the Mac App Store for all compatible operating systems (at a price), which at the time included Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Mac OS X Lion. Perhaps the ease of digitally downloading a new operating system from the Mac App Store has helped Apple to realize that selling a new operating system for $29.99 will land more money in their pockets than individual 99¢ downloads will.