Is it time to end big, annual OS X updates?

“Do we really need major, highly touted updates to software like Mac OS X or is it time for continuous updating in the background?” Dennis Sellers writes for Apple World Today.

“These upgrades will keep coming regardless of whether or not Apple makes a big public announcement about, say, Mac OS X Mojave,” Sellers writes. “My pal, J. Scott Anderson, notes that, by removing the annual-big-OS-announcement scenario, we’d get feature updates faster.”

Sellers writes, “Why not just run a continuous improvement cycle and add the features as they come on-line and are tested[?]”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in January 2015:

Frankly, we don’t need a new Mac or iPhone/iPad operating system every year and Apple Inc. doesn’t need it, either. Annual OS releases shouldn’t be mandated. What we all really need, customers and Apple Inc., are operating systems that are rock solid and do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Why not just add new features/services to existing OSes with continued point releases that refine and extend the experiences and services you want to deliver? Why not just release new operating systems only when they are rock solid and ready?


  1. I think OS XI is due. I do not foresee big UI changes. I think it should start with an internet security-centric kernel. That should then propagate outward to memory and all IO. Maybe even secure video signal to the screen. Secure keyboard and mouse activity.

  2. the primary reason to have staged events, major software release announcements and other media related functions is to draw attention to and speed adoption of new features and gain conversions and/or sales. If all software updates were just quietly released, no announcement made, no press releases written the rate of adoption would slow markedly, systems and services that might otherwise depend on the adoption of the new software or features would suffer and the tech press would have nothing to write about. It’s a silly premise.. no major releases, no news.. right.

  3. It’s the software, stupid! Updates have become nothing more than beta testing for consumers to help Apple find the bugs not found because of lack of quality control. Apple has become the new Microsuck: Thrust shit on users and let them do the quality control. Instead of worrying about pretty watch bands, how about software and an OS that “just works”. The latest release of iOS9 is a perfect example of crap that was rolled out with minimal regard as to functionality or quality. Apple is headed toward becoming Apple sauce. Name one quality OS that has been created since Tim Cook has been CEO. The dull and insipid, not to mention fugally UI, seems to have become Apple’s new hallmark thanks to Cook and his ilk. Sadly, many of us feat the end of the Mac is on the horizon.

    1. Absolutely on target, speedplay. Apple is a phone company planning on eliminating all the “trucks” that used to define the once great company.

    2. you are right on the money amigo.

      i suspect that part of the problem is that mr. apple has lost the thread…. they used to be a software company, for which they made the hardware to run it.

      both of which were, relative to all other companies, top notch.

      seems like nowadays they have transitioned into a hardware company, which still produces excellent and durable products, but have let the software portion of the business slip, as alluded to above.

      not good.

      time to refocus gentlemen.

      the term “insanely great” was meant to apply to both parts of the equation, not just half of it.

  4. The primary reason to have annual or regular major releases is not marketing but technical: it provides some degree of change control. Let’s face it, Apple’s software efforts in recent years leave a lot to be desired and many users are cautious about when they update. Those who allow automatic updates have had a few nasty surprises…

    Releases do not have to be annual – but they need to be significant.

    On an iPad it probably doesn’t matter – these are rarely used for work functions and, where they are (airlines, hospitals etc) they are presumably managed centrally. iPhone OS problems reveal themselves quickly and can be patched. But OS/X problems often seem to be major and awkward or impossible to patch – and users must live with the issue until Apple can rewrite a component (as in the network issues which plagued Yosemite).

    Please remember that some of us actually use our Macs for work, and they need to work. Don’t mess with this – the writing is already on the wall for many Mac users who are fed up with Apple’s laser like focus on the iPhone and their repeated bleatings that iPad is the future.

    iPad is NOT the future for Mac users. Much more of this and Windows will be the future for Mac users.

    1. Absolutely on target, SunbeamRapier. Apple is a phone company planning on eliminating all the “trucks” that used to define the once great company.

    2. Absolutely. Block changes are necessary.

      Call up Apple support or go to the Genius Bar and the first thing they check is what version of OS you’re using. Yosemite? El Capitan? OK. Now which Point Release of that? .2? .3? OK. Now let’s get started.

      Conversely… What version are you using? 10.12.12789. Now wait a few minutes while I pull up the specific inclusions on that and how those releases may affect your issue.

      Effectively, by putting it to a continuously rolling release Apple would be making the OS a continuous Beta (or maybe a continuous Alpha). It would also be an internal quality nightmare. Final QA (and Beta testing and external Developer testing) is with a relatively fixed set of modules/components included. If that set is continuously evolving, it will make testing virtually impossible. What do you test module xxx against? Version 10.12.1237 or 10.12.1238? Oops, the ship date slipped. We need to test it against 10.12 1239 instead.

    3. “iPad is NOT the future for Mac users. Much more of this and Windows will be the future for Mac users.”

      While I do agree with this sentiment for some specific cases, by 2025 at the latest Macs will be relegated to a niche. Just as Steve Jobs explained years ago, once almost all motor vehicles were the equivalent of trucks. Now, except in certain regions, only a small fraction of vehicles are trucks. But… Trucks still exist and are used by the general population, and they will for many, many years to come.

      There will *always* be a need for the equivalent of a desktop Mac. The requirements for users of those future machines will continue to increase just as the requirements of current desktop Macs far outstrip the requirements (and capabilities) of the original 128k Mac so too will the requirement for capabilities of a 2020 or 2025 Mac.

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