How Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard became synonymous with reliability

“Following the news that Apple had refocused their plans for iOS 12 around stability and performance over new features, many were quick to liken the move to a ‘Snow Leopard release’ of iOS,” Michael Steeber writes for 9to5Mac. ” In recent years, the phrase has reached mythological status in the Apple community, a catch-all referring to stable software and ‘the good ol’ days’ of the Mac.”

“But how did this perception develop? Was Mac OS X Snow Leopard really the gold standard of software releases, an undefeated champion in the halls of computing history?” Steeber writes. “Apple started the ball rolling at the announcement of Snow Leopard during WWDC 2009 by marketing it as having ‘no new features.’ Mac OS X Leopard had been a blockbuster release with over 300 new features, and Snow Leopard was a refinement.”

“In some ways, the narrative is out of Apple’s hands. The myth of Snow Leopard is bigger than life, a cultural reference rooted in nostalgia,” Steeber writes. “However, a kernel of truth persists underneath the mythology. Improvements to iOS and macOS, no matter how small, contribute to a better experience for everyone. Fixing bugs might not be as marketable as shiny new Animoji or a fresh design, but maintenance can only be deferred so long. If Apple can knock stability out of the park in 2018, maybe the legend of Snow Leopard can finally be put to rest.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: It was the good old days not because Snow Leopard was perfect (it wasn’t), but because Steve was still with us.

We welcome Apple’s focus on quality even as we lament that what was once integral being allowed to work at Apple has now become a special occasion. There’s no need to stop to clean up the mess if the mess wasn’t made in the first place.

Despite feature hold in focus on quality, Apple still aims to allow iOS apps to run on Macs this year – January 31, 2018
Apple’s iOS 12 could finally fix systemic frame rate issues and interface inconsistencies – January 30, 2018
Apple delays planned 2018 iOS features to focus on reliability, performance – January 30, 2018
Why Apple desperately needs a new Steve Jobs – January 29, 2018
At Tim Cook’s Apple, Steve Jobs is long gone, and so is the ‘it just works’ ethos – December 19, 2017
The Washington Post: ‘Why doesn’t Apple make its devices as carefully as it’s making Apple Park?’ – December 11, 2017
Under ‘operations genius’ Tim Cook, product delays and other problems are no longer unusual for Apple – November 20, 2017
Apple’s desperate Mac Pro damage control message hints at a confused, divided company – April 6, 2017
Who has taken over at Apple? – April 5, 2017
Apple’s embarrassing Mac Pro mea culpa – April 4, 2017
Mac Pro: Why did it take Apple so long to wake up? – April 4, 2017
AirPods: MIA for the holidays; delayed product damages Apple’s credibility, stokes customer frustration – December 9, 2016
Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016
Apple is misplaying the hand Steve Jobs left them – November 30, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. 2018 marks 9 years since I switched to Mac. Its been disappointing to see the decline in quality of the OS. I was lucky to have started on Leopard and then Snow Leopard shortly thereafter. From what I remember those were paid upgrades back then, and Apple still sells SL!
    I imagine that the change from a paid upgrade to a guaranteed annual upgrade for everyone shifted something in the development process. Instead of creating a product for paying customers they were releasing an OS that was increasingly overshadowed by iOS and was meant to keep up with it, rather than shine in its own right. In many ways new versions of MacOS are a value-add/compatibility updates for iOS users. iOS is great for many things, but my Mac is where most business and entertainment happen.

  2. posted this yesterday in response to an Apple Support survey, I will say that Apple Support Chat put in a great effort to solve my 10.13.3 problem, still have a DNS problem, but its workable;

    “The complexity of the Apple ecosystem is a problem. The attempted integration of iOS and Mac is going too far, too fast. Mac seems to becoming the red-headed stepchild when it should be marketed, should have better development and general emphasis. As of last October, I am a 30 year Mac user. High Sierra was not ready. Last summer I worked on a web project for a company with the requirement that it be done at the clients facility on Windows 10. The interface is clunky, ugly, confusing, all of the things that we Mac users believe, and those are true. But the system was rock solid and dead reliable, no issues at all on that. My work, which is mostly HTML5 animation using Tumult Hype (not used on the project I am talking about) is one of about 12 3rd party apps around which I build my business. ALL excellent quality. How many Apple apps do I use? A quick list off the top of my head: Safari (but still compatibility problems in school systems and companies) Mail,( I am familiar with it even though it is buggy) TextEdit, Preview, Calendar (my needs there are not complex, again, familiarity is a factor) Contacts,Reminders, Notes (love it actually), iTunes horrible but my needs are minimal, not obsessed with entertainment and music as some are. Maps, actually not bad. —Pages, all of the other iWork group, haven’t had a use for them in years really. 90% of my time is on 3rd party apps, without them, the decision would be shaky.——————–in my daily work life, the quality of the 3rd party apps is the key factor in my success. Have a love-hate thing with Apple, bring back the mindset of 1988-20??? something. Would love the friendliness of Snow Leopard, haven’t felt that since. And that matters! Look at the style, but more importantly the feel and user friendliness of Snap On tools in the automotive world compared to others. Thats where we were. You just want to pick up and use one of their wrenches, (I am a hot rodder) Apple was the hot rod truck that you enjoyed driving, could go fast and HAUL STUFF! (and if you measured the emission levels it was right down there with the best due to aftermarket technology. I will stop now.”

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.