Apple’s frequent update experiment has failed; it’s time for another Snow Leopard

“As many of you have by now heard and experienced, OS X Yosemite has its fair share of problems,” Jim Tanous writes for TekRevue.

“Some of them are minor (not preserving non-native scaling at boot or wake on Retina Displays which causes saved user windows to open at the wrong size and position) and some of them are major (UI slowdowns and system freezes that require daily reboots to clear, or Wi-Fi connectivity issues),” Tanous writes. “But the fact is that the list of bugs as of 10.10.1 (many of which are still present in the latest preview build of 10.10.2) is long and troubling, leading me to a realization this week: I no longer trust OS X. In fact, OS X Yosemite on both my 2013 Mac Pro and 2014 MacBook Pro is unusable in its current state.”

“At WWDC 2009, Apple’s then-Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Bertrand Serlet, took the stage and announced something that he called “unprecedented” in the computing industry: the upcoming OS X Snow Leopard would have ‘no new features,'” Tanous writes. “That wasn’t technically true, of course, but his point was that Apple was focusing on refining Leopard — fixing bugs, introducing under-the-hood improvements, and providing performance boosts across the board — rather than rolling out yet another set of end-user interface and functionality changes. It was indeed a bold move, but it paid off, and Snow Leopard is generally viewed as one of the best operating systems ever released by Apple.”

Tanous writes, “It’s time to do that again.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015

76 Comments

    1. Ehh, Yosemite is fairly stable for me. It’s those fucking dogshit piles iTunes 12 (yeah, let’s change the way our most important app works with no ability to backtrack because my new hardware requires that new software) and iOS 8 (46% battery life? Not enough to run Face Time), let’s shut down.

    1. It is actually about every three years for a true “major” update of OS X, if you think about it. Most of the time, the annual OS X update adds new apps and functionality, without drastic changes to the underlying system.

      Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks should be considered ONE release of OS X that received progressive enhancements every year. And then Yosemite was a true MAJOR new release of OS X, that will receive progressive enhancements over the next two (or more) years.

      It’s not that different from what was happening before Lion; Apple is just being clever with marketing “progress,” to make Microsoft look bad and encourage a continuous flow of Windows deserters to the Mac world.

      I haven’t had any major issues with OS X caused by the annual updates. I don’t even do a “clean” install anymore, except when I get a completely new Mac. And I don’t do dumb stuff like install the Yosemite public beta over my primary day-to-day system, or fall victim to trojan schemes and (intentionally) install malware.

      If it appears there are more people reporting problems, that’s because there are… And the reason there are more problems being reported is because there are MANY times more total Mac users now, compared to the “good old days” of Snow Leopard; there will be a PERCENTAGE of users with problems like data corruption and failing drives (or otherwise do “dumb stuff” to their OS X system). That means more reported problems since there are more total users. It is a symptom of Apple’s monumental success and rebirth of the Mac platform. It is NOT because Apple’s software quality has suffered.

      1. I have never posted so direct a reply as I’m about to: you, ken1w, are flat-out wrong.

        Look at all the comments from the overwhelmingly Apple loyalists on MDN (both this article and last week’s An Open Letter to Tim Cook). Then look at the results of the current poll (Has Apple’s software quality slipped in the last few years?) — once again, voted on largely by those who frequent this site.

        Apple need to “unstick” themselves from the once a year upgrade cycle for both iOS and OS X, and the time is now. Maintenance updates, when feasible and much more fully tested, should be the norm.

        I am an Apple loyalist from the days when there were very few who believed. But history has taught us that tech companies who alienate their customers by letting quality slip are too easily replaced.

        Apple: You need to listen, and take the appropriate steps to return to quality software on both of your platforms (and revert to iTunes v11.x; the UI in v12 is horrendous).

        1. Apple “loyalists” are not the universe of Apple “customers.” The vast majority of Apple’s customers are (silently) happy with their treasured Apple products. And most of them don’t “frequent this site”; they just use their Apple gear as part of their lives, problem-free…

          If Apple is “alienating” their customers, Apple would not be achieving record-breaking results, and growth that is accelerating UPWARD. The proof is in the real-world results, achieved by faithfully serving real-world customers. Real-world customers who consistently return to buy MORE Apple products.

          1. You are going by the numbers, ken1w. That is regarded by the faithful as specious reasoning, a distraction. Of what use are statistics if they don’t represent my individual case? Apple works for me, goddamit! Fix my problems, Apple! I speak for untold millions! Or at least for my immediate circle, who really matter! Or if not that, what of the Jobsian ideal workmanship? These bugs are an abject betrayal of what made Apple special! Hand me that megaphone, ken. I’ll show them what happens when they deviate from the yellow brick road!

            1. Statistics? LOL… The relatively small sampling of Mac users who happen to visit MDN, and the sub-set of that group who happen to see the survey in the sidebar, and sub-set of that group who decide to participate (minus the unknown number of votes from participants who vote multiple times), is hardly “statistics.” Counting the number of “separate posts” in Apple support forum is also not “statistics,” just lazy research. Your hyperventilating post is also not “statistics.” My experience of having no significant problems with the annual OS X release cycle is just as valid as your comical (maybe even satirical) rant (and more coherent).

              What really matters and truly represent ALL (real) Apple customers are the undeniable “statistics” of Apple’s financial results. Actual Apple customers choosing to put down their hard-earn money to buy Apple products, many because they were happy with previous Apple products and being part of the Apple “eco-sysytem.” Apple can’t lie about their ACTUAL business results, and that trend points (if anything) to Apple customers becoming MORE happy about Apple’s products, NOT less.

            2. I was trying to be sarcastic. To be more clear, instead, I should have said, I agree with you.

              I have had my own issues with these software releases, and have had such issues with every software release since baby Moses swirled in the bulrushes; but I refrain from trumpeting them as if every user were experiencing debilitating trauma, which I know not to be the case. Unfortunately, the Internet amplifies everything, and turns every pet peeve into a debacle. It’s sort of the social equivalent of handing a loaded gun to an infant.

            3. As I was writing the reply, I realized you may be joking around… Your post was entertaining, while not going completely “over the top” (compared to some people here who are actually “serious”). I thank you for the opportunity to make a few additional points… 🙂

            1. iTunes is the bridge with Windows. It is what made people buy the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. It is done a lot to get people to switch from Windows to the Mac. Unfortunately it has caused issues with both platforms.

          1. While iTunes has gotten admittedly worse since Apple has crammed even more functionality into the application, even SoundJam, iTune’s predecessor, had a fairly crappy UI.

          1. Yes, I think most of the many complainers here read about problems and say to themselves, “Apple has serious issues” while not actually being personally affected. Or, their complaint is something like “UI in [iTunes] v12 is horrendous” (actual quote for above) or “I don’t like the look of Yosemite” which are Apple’s design decisions, not a reflection of “software quality.” (I personally like the new iTunes, after getting use to it and understanding the changes, and I have always liked the clean look of Yosemite, versus the ever-increasing eye-candy of previous OS X releases.)

            And then there are the “trolls” pretending to “long-time loyal customers” of Apple products. You know how to tell…? They are the ones who typically feel the need to point out that they are “long-time loyal customers” of Apple products, instead of just stating their points.

          2. On my late 2010 MBP running Yosemite crashes many times a day. So often were the crashes I performed a wipe of the HDD then performed a clean install; still it crashes. Running Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, this MBP never crashed. After installing Yosemite the crashes began, thus I blame Yosemite, not the MBP.

            1. Well I’m sorry to hear that. Having a problem like that isn’t fun.

              But the same problem you’re having now, other people have had on other versions of OS X even though you didn’t… and that’s the point here. So while you want to blame Yosemite, I’m sure those people blamed whatever OS release they updated to.

          3. I use iCloud so the mail client no longer filters junk mail. Prior to the election I was getting more than 300 junk mails per day in my inbox and a similar amount between Thanksgiving and New Year. This has caused me to start testing third party email clients for the first time since OS X made its debut.

            Overall the interface changes are extremely unpleasant, culminating in unreadable black text on dark blue buttons.

            ITunes is in a class all its own, deleting music by itself, taking multiple tries to complete a sync, it’s inability to accurately report memory usage on iOS devices, it’s inability to perform syncs over Wi-Fi and the list goes on and on and on.

            Wi-Fi connections have become hit and miss, and there are always the random crashes and various other bugs like drive icons showing up in the wrong place after a restart.

            There have always been little glitches here and there, but never so many big problems that have continued this long. Installing Yosemite was the worst mistake I ever made on my Mac.

  1. Funny. They do it with their iPhones every year. When I think of the “S” track, I always think of it as the refined, bug-removed version of the new style phone released the previous year.

    Yes, they should do a “Snow Leopard” on Yosemite. They are welcome to try and add a feature or two, but only after they’ve fixed everything else.

      1. I’m running it on a two-week old refurbished MacBook Pro 2.9 i7 (non-Retina) and I haven’t had any issues. I also tested it on a base 13″ 2014 MacBook Air and didn’t have any issues, either.

        I’m not a power user, though, and just use it for Safari, Pages, Scrivener, Traktor Pro and Djay Pro. Haven’t tested the DJ apps fully but they seem to run okay.

        As it is, my main DJ laptop is still running Traktor Pro 2.1.3 under Snow Leopard 🙂

  2. Amen: User’s time is valuable.

    Bugs cost us users lost time and money.

    Some of us wait until 6 months or a year into a new OS before we jump, just to avoid the headaches and the features & apps that don’t play nice in the beginning.

    1. From Tiger to Lion it was more like 1.5 to 2 years and the OS has become far more complex and mote tightly integrated with iOS since then. A yearly update cycle just creates legions of unknowing and unwilling beta testers.

        1. Yes, but the OS has become far more complicated since then. There’s a lot more code to worry about and putting the programmers on a schedule is a mistake. An OS should not be released to the public until it’s ready. Why you think 70% of the poll responders are unhappy with apples most recent releases?

          1. Yeah, Because The Panther upgrade that wiped out everyone’s external HD never happened… And before iCloud, iTools and Mobile Me worked flawlessly.. And OS X Leopard was so stable that the featureless Snow Leopard stability update was not even needed.

            I keep forgetting that there were never any problems with Apple software before Mavericks.

    2. You are wrong.
      Taken from the Apple History website, here are the release dates below.
      The .0 to .1 was 6 months but .0 was such a beta version they needed to get the .1 out quickly.
      10.3 to 10.4 was 1.5 years, then 10.4 to 10.5 was 2.5 years.

      The real kicker is the Snow Leopard “maintinance” release took almost 2 years to release.

      So, yes, Apple needs to do this again. 10.10 is a mess. One group of web designers took it upon them selves to upgrade to 10.10 before checking with me. They are all on laptops and use Wi-Fi exclusively. They are all having Wi-Fi problems and Mail problems. They did not have these problems with 10.9.5.

      10.10 Server FTP service is wacked. Works internally but no go from outside the firwall with port forwarding setup. Even tried Rumpus FTP on the 10.10 server. Still no go. Grabbed a MacBook Pro with 10.8.5 and loaded Rumpus FTP on it. Pointed the Port Forwarding to it and it just worked. So I now have a client with a 10.10.1 Server that FTP will not work. Great.

      10.0 Cheetah March 2001
      10.1 Puma September 2001 6 months
      10.2 Jaguar August 2002 11 months
      10.3 Panther October 2003 1 year 2 months
      10.4 Tiger April 2005 1 year 6 months
      10.5 Leopard October 2007 2 years 6 months
      10.6 Snow Leopard August 2009 1 year 10 months –
      10.7 Lion July 2011 1 year 11 months
      10.8 Mountain Lion July 2012 1 year
      10.9 Mavericks October 2013 1 year 3 months
      10.10 Yosemite October 2014 1 year

      The update to Mac OS X 10.6 will focus on improving performance, efficiency and reducing its overall memory footprint, rather than new end-user features.
      AND it still took 1 year 10 months to release.

  3. Articles like these continue to surface! And thank god! Tim Cook may not listen to the Apple faithful, but when enough folks in the tech industry raise red flags – maybe, just maybe – the brain-trust at Apple will realize that its software is damaging Apple’s reputation. Like a variation on the old political adage: “It’s the software, Stupid!” My heart aches for the day when I could say with confidence, “It just works.” Now all I can say is, “It just sucks!”

  4. I waited a few months to install Yosemite, but I wish I waited longer. I got seduced by Continuity: and while that works great, I don’t use that part of the OS very often. Glad I at least kept my work computer on Mavericks. I want another Snow Leopard. That was a damn good OS.

    1. Snow Leopard was a major under the hood update. Not too many new features but just a serious cleaning up of a internal code. It caused me a decent amount of grief, but as software updated it became extremely stable and that stability continued on for the rest of the big cats.

      I feel that both OS X and iOS need a Snow Leopard type of break, where the bugs are squashed and the code cleaned up. For some idiotic reason some (probably some marketing drone) thought it would be a good idea to release yearly updates and that experiment failed.

      “it just works” is a great marketing slogan, let’s just hope that Apple makes it a reality, because these days it’s a roll of the dice.

  5. I’m 72 years old, have been using Snow Leopard since it was introduced and really enjoy it. I have a few “legacy” applications that I have used since Moby Dick was a Guppy and Appleworks 6 is one of them. I have so damn much stuff in it that even if there was a program that could read the files (DON’T tell me Pages will unless you know a secret that I don’t) it would take me forever to convert all of them. Apple – take a step back and do a quick update on Snow Leopard or build a Rosette App that works with the latest OSX versions and make a helluva lot of people happy. Now, before all you young tech savvy bucks jump all over me, just remember that you, too, are going to get to my age and will surely piss & moan about something else that Apple has done to screw over your mind and make things more difficult! Just make sure it works right out of the box!!

    1. Jes42, I am CERTAINLY not “jumping all over you” but them doing any work on previous versions, especially one three versions ago, is a fantasy that is not going to happen. There is just no upside for Apple to do it.

      I did see this Macworld article that lists some apps that will convert older Appleworks files to modern formats but give it up sir…either convert them, keep an old machine around, or abandon them because the day is coming soon when Apple will abandon Snow Leopard and it will be in the same shape your old System 9 Mac was in 🙂

      http://www.macworld.com/article/1139468/moreonolderfileconversion.html

    2. Well I’m not farting dust yet, but dropping support for AppleWorks 6 without providing an upgrade path for documents to work with iWork was one of the biggest mistakes Apple ever made, right after the yearly OS update cycle. I update computers a little more often so I’m often stuck with machines they can’t run the more stable operating systems.

      I just hope that Apple gets the message and irons out all the bugs and attends to software like iTunes that hasn’t had a major update in almost a decade. New features are always welcomed but not at the cost of constant problems and compatibility issues. I shouldn’t have to keep a 14-year-old iBook handy just to access my olds AppleWorks files.

    3. Apple no longer supporting Rosetta has been a major headache for me.

      Many years ago, I used to use Freehand to design custom equipment, but Freehand was bought out and abandoned by Adobe, so it no longer exists. Although I’ve used a different application for designing stuff since then, I still have thousands of Freehand files that relate to stuff that I designed and which is still in service. The only way that I can read those files is by using a really elderly PPC Mac which I keep specifically for that purpose ( with a spare PowerBook just in case it packs up ).

      Macs are regarded as being the computer of choice for designers. If you’re designing something ephemeral, such as a poster, then you don’t often need to go back to your old work, but if you’re designing equipment with a lifespan of tens of years, you will need to refer to those design documents for tens of years into the future. Rosetta was just software. I don’t see why it had to be killed off like it was. I understand how Apple wanted customers to migrate to Intel powered Macs, but we still need to be able to access our previous work on our Macs. At the very least, Rosetta could have become a paid-for app, so that those who needed it could still use it, but casual users would have been discouraged.

    1. No! No Rosetta App! AppleWorks 7!!! For OS X and iOS.

      I’m feeling your pain. It’s a shame to see all of the investment in AppleWorks by users just be tossed aside. A modern AW would be wonderful.

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