For months I’ve heard plenty and read everything I could about the dumbing down of OS X for the masses, lapses in Apple’s quality control procedures, and the massive number of bugs in OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite. So, what’s the real story?
Only Apple Knows
My personal Mac experience goes back to the original 128k Mac of the last century, then to dozens of Macs through the years; including the Copland visual inspirations that made it to Mac Classic OS at the turn of the century. Since then, my Macs– dozens of them– have all been unwrapped with various versions of OS X, and each one was an improvement of sorts from the previous.
Improvements? Oh, boy. Where to begin. I attempted to use Kodiak, Cheetah, and Puma, but the first version of OS X that was truly usable was Jaguar, and Panther, like Snow Leopard a few years later, was a favorite.
Why? More usability, fewer hiccups and speed bumps than predecessors, but they all came with issues, not show stoppers or deal breakers. Along the way Apple went through upheavals and changes that would cripple many technology companies.
The switch from PowerPCs to Intel Inside was massive but made somewhat easier with Apple’s ever-changing road from Carbon to Xcode and now to Swift. To say that OS X Mavericks or Yosemite come with more visible problems and lesser quality today is faith based, not fact based.
Tracking and categorizing and fixing bugs in OS X and the Mac’s apps is a big chunk of Apple’s business, a portion we see little of until something doesn’t go just right, and throughout the history of OS X, version after version came with a substantial share of problems, some high profile, some not.
So, to those who cry that OS X’s quality issues in Mavericks and Yosemite are far worse than in previous years, I say you have a very short memory, flawed to where fiction is treated as fact, where emotional responses are treated as math.
How is quality defined by the masses of Mac users in any way other than subjective?
quality |ˈkwälətē| noun (pl. qualities)
1 the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something: an improvement in product quality | people today enjoy a better quality of life.
• general excellence of standard or level: a masterpiece for connoisseurs of quality | [ as modifier ] : a wide choice of quality beers.
• archaic high social standing: commanding the admiration of people of quality.
• [ treated as pl. ] archaic people of high social standing: he’s dazed at being called on to speak before quality.
2 a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something: he shows strong leadership qualities | the plant’s aphrodisiac qualities.
• Phonetics the distinguishing characteristic or characteristics of a speech sound.
• Music another term for timbre.
• Astrology any of three properties (cardinal, fixed, or mutable), representing types of movement, that a zodiacal sign can possess.
How can the quality of OS X even be defined? Perception among experienced users? Or, the number and category of bugs uncovered during usage? A drop in sales? Slower upgrade adoption?
As far as OS X’s historical achievements go, Kodiak, Cheetah and Puma were anything but bug free, and barely usable; more curiosities than an OS ready for the masses. Since then, subjectively, each new version of OS X has arrived with bugs; problems that inhibited usage in some way or another.
Jaguar was the first truly usable version of OS X, Panther the first truly stable version, Tiger and Lion the first with advanced features, Snow Leopard the most dependable. But that perspective is anecdotal and subjective from an experienced user with an imperfect memory. It’s not numeric analysis. A severe bug to one user may not even be noticed by another user.
As to the relative quality of the most recent versions, OS X Mavericks and Yosemite, frankly, the hiccups I’ve experienced, as well as what I’ve heard from co-workers and friends– all Macaholics to a fault– is much the same as the past. No deal breakers, a few inconvenient issues here and there, but nothing that separates these latest OS X versions from the past as reflective of a decline in quality.
Using a Mac, iPhone, or iPad over time is a dynamic experience; things are always changing; sometimes in fits and starts, sometimes smoothly and incrementally, but always changing. It is better to adapt to the changes as they come, in whatever increments are comfortable and effective for you personally, than to complain– without some kind of numeric comparison– that what’s new today isn’t as good as it was back in the day. That is seldom the case.
For those of you using OS X Mavericks or Yosemite today, would you prefer to back up and use Tiger or Leopard or Snow Leopard instead? This is not an era where an operating system experiences death by a thousand cuts. OS X is not declining in popularity or usage with Mac users. OS X may not be perfect with every new version (name one that was), and some changes may not at first appear welcome, useful, or even necessary. But change is the name of the game, and OS X changes regularly to meet the needs of customers. Death is a natural occurrence and death comes when something better comes along. Fair enough. What’s better?
If there’s a decline and fall in OS X it isn’t easily quantified and appears to be more of an emotional response and bias to change than it is a reflection of reality.