Some Mac users clinging to dead Mac OS 9 instead of upgrading to Mac OS X

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zeiler looks at reasons why some Mac users are clinging to the old Mac OS 9 operating system instead of upgrading to Mac OS X.

“The almost universal praise showered upon Apple Computer Inc.’s new music service has obscured a rather daunting reality: the majority of Macintosh users cannot access it! Most of the reviews dutifully noted that the iTunes Music Store is for the time being Mac only, and thus restricted to Apple’s approximately 3 percent of the computing market. Few bothered to point out, however, that because the iTunes Store requires Mac OS X, only those who have moved on from Mac OS 9 to OS X — about one in four Mac users by Apple’s most recent estimate in January — can use the service,” writes David Zeiler for The Baltimore Sun.

MacDailyNews note: the “3 percent” figure Zeiler cites is a rough estimate of the past few quarters’ retail marketshare. It would be more accurate to state that Apple has somewhere between 5-10% of the computing market when you consider that Mac users tend to keep their Macs longer on average than “PC” users and also take into account that many “PC” machines are in a business setting that most likely wouldn’t be accessing the iTunes Music Store anyway. If you look at the total amount of machines in homes and small businesses, Apple most likely has a higher percentage of the computing market than 3%.

Zeiler continues, “In January Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that with 5 million of an estimated 20 million or so Mac users running OS X, ‘we can now say that the Mac OS X transition is nearly complete.’ Apple has said all along that the conversion is on schedule, but it would seem that having 75 percent of Mac users still on Mac OS 9 — or earlier versions, for that matter — is far from a transition in its final stages.”

MacDailyNews note: earlier today, Senior Vice-President for Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller told BusinessWeek, “We count somewhere north of 25 million active Mac users in the world. Over half of that user base [own] systems that can run Mac OS X.” This, of course, would make a maximum of over 12 million Mac OS X users worldwide, according to Apple. However, since the iTunes Music Store is US-only, the number of 5 million Mac OS X users that can access the iTMS that Zeiler cites as a basis for his article ends up being close to the mark. Zeiler’s claim of “75 percent of Mac users still on Mac OS 9” doesn’t quite jive with Schiller’s statement of 50 percent even if all of them aren’t running OS X on systems that can run the new OS. The real percentage is probably somewhere between 60-65% that are still running Mac OS 9 of all the total Mac users.

“Considering that OS X’s official release was more than two years ago and that converting its user base to the new system has been an Apple priority, one might wonder what’s behind the delay,” writes Zeiler.

Full article here.


  1. Mac OS X is spreading slowly, today I officially kicked off the transition from OS 9 to X (10.2.6) at a local school, all macs that can use OS X will have it soon.

  2. The only thing truely lacking in OS X was printing cababilities.

    It wasn’t until OS 10.2.5 that OS X could support AppleTalk printers. Personally I always had to print in Classic to my Laserwriter 360. I also hated that I couldn’t use 3/4 of the fetures of my Epson Stylus Photo 960 (borderless, cutter, roll paper, CD printing).

    As of OS 10.2.6, I have the full printing functionality of OS 9 in OS X (plus direct PDF output). I have no plans to go back.

    In fact if it weren’t for Intuit QuickTax and PageMaker (old documents I continue to use) I would uninstall Classic mode as well.

    Trust me, if you’ve got a G3/400 or higher and can spring for 512MB of RAM do yourself a favour and make the switch!

  3. Because OSX is a different experience than 9, some don’t want to make the effort. Change is scary to many. It is the same reason why millions of PC users don’t make the switch to Mac…they kinda want to, but they are scared of the change.

    The good news is that OSX is such an incredible OS, that it takes less than a week of using it to NEVER want to go back (to OS9 OR PC!!).

  4. One thing to consider is that a LOT of Mac users probably still don’t know about OS X. The geeks who visit Mac sites are a minority. Many people buy a Mac and never think to upgrade from the pre-installed OS.

    Also, not everyone is obsessed with the latest and greatest (or can afford to be). I would love to own a dual-processor G4, but I am stuck with a Yosemite G3 for now, and it’s really fine for me. I have an OS X partition, but don’t use it regularly because I have to switch to a different and less-reliable modem, some of my hard drives don’t show up (unsupported card), some apps are orphaned, and it generally feels sluggish compared to 9. The benefits just aren’t worth the cost for me yet.

  5. dhp wrote:
    “The benefits just aren’t worth the cost for me yet.”

    That’s because you simply don’t understand the benefits. Once you finally do switch to OS X, you’ll laugh at yourself and understand why once you leave 9, you never want to go back.

  6. One thing to consider is that a LOT of Mac users probably still don’t know about OS X

    This is unfortunately true. Apple has done a pathetic job of getting the word out to the general public. Perhaps when Panther comes out (on 970s?), they will dig into some of that $4.5 billion and actually advertise. Carpetbomb the public with OSX and 970 speeds, and we will really see some switching!

  7. I run my business on Macintosh. Unfortunately, my primary app, my accounting software, is not compatible with OS X. I recently found out that, in fact, it never will be. So now I have to find a powerful enough, multi-user OS X accounting software and deal with the switch and learning curve. For a business, I can’t afford to just putz around with OS X. I have to know I am getting a solid OS and solid apps before I can switch. That is why I haven’t switched before. On top of that, with the economy down for the last 3 years, I can’t afford to buy new computers that support OSX. My server is still an old Power Computing box that has been running 24/7 since 1997 without a glitch. Talk about longevity. Try doing that with an old 486 or Pentium 1.

  8. Apple needs to increase the speed of OSX if they want OS9 users to switch. Right now you need a Mac that is 4 times as fast just to get twice the speed of OS9. That’s bogus.

  9. Before anyone starts slamming Apple for not promoting OSX enough, how many Windows users are still using Windows 98, hm? I had a call from a client the other week who didn’t even know what Windows XP was!

    For many Mac owners, myself included, the “switch” includes:
    For a 400Mhz TiBook
    Upgrading my 10G hard drive to a 40-60G drive cost: $150 or so.
    $129 for OSX

    By the way, I did install OSX on the Tibook for testing purposes. It sucked up 3G of hard drive space and took longer to start up than OS 9.2.2.

    I’m not saying it’s not a great OS, but there are those of use who are more than a little miffed that Apple underestimated it’s own software’s requirements and producing hardware that really can’t handle what’s being thrown at it. After spending $2500 for a laptop, I’m having a hard time justifying the upgrade expense.

  10. I think there are 2 reasons why people aren’t switching:

    1. They have older hardware that barely supports X. Why make your “slow” computer even slower by installing X?

    2. All the major companies’ apps cost money to upgrade. Apple tried to make it sound so easy for the developers to recompile and use carbon and voila you would have your 9 app turned into an X app. Instead it takes longer and software companies aren’t including X support until the next version, and they charge for this upgrade. Even for business purposes it is a tough sell to not only ask for a new mac, but also all new software.

    I use my mac for audio – and if I switched I would have to start over completely – especially considering not only the costs of the apps but also the plugins…

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