Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

Summary: With "Mountain Lion", the next Mac OS X operating system, out to developers today, why is a new version on the cards so soon after its previous incarnation?

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The one thing that jumps out over the past hour of reporting --- and the hour I was on my lunch break, go figure --- is how soon after 'Lion' comes 'Mountain Lion', the next version of the Mac OS X operating system.

Seven months after the last version of Mac OS X was released, the speed in which Apple develops is breathtakingly fast, considering each and every time it simply adds more to where it left off.

Is Apple going too fast in its development? No, it's not. In fact, I think Apple strikes the balance just right, and the timing almost down to perfection.

You have Microsoft updating Windows roughly every 2--3 years with a radical overhaul of interfaces, designs, applications and features. Every once in a while, it throws in a curveball like a 'cultural identity' shift towards Metro; something only a fraction of people actually wants.

And then you have the Mozilla 'on steroids' routine. An update every few weeks from Firefox 5 to 6, 7 and 8 all in the space of a few months. It not only makes it a nightmare for users who do not have seamless upgrades unlike Google's Chrome browser, but it causes no end of updating headaches for enterprise administrators who have to push out the browser so often.

Seven months is a suitable time to keep things fresh, the price of the product down --- and in some cases, as a free upgrade --- and the end consumers feel as though they are not forgotten about. In fact, it's seven months since Lion was brought out and Mountain Lion was announced. As sister site CNET notes, there is a roughly a year gap between each release.

Apple wants to keep things on the edge, whilst giving the impression that its users are far from the cliff edge. Not a great analogy, but it's not the fear, rather the excitement of the drop. Seven months for the announcement to grab the hook, a year for the end product release.

But the enterprise still feels left behind in the cold by Apple. Its Lion Server product is more akin to Microsoft's series of Windows Home Servers. The multiple users, file sharing and even a mail server are all useful features for small to medium-sized businesses, but the power still rests in the hands of Linux and arguably Windows too.

The real question is how prepared will the Apple developer community be. Mac developers in particular will need time to get to grips with the new APIs, the new features, and also help Apple shake out the bugs.

Image source: CNET.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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19 comments
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  • Because Windows 8 is coming out this year?

    Just saying...
    TheWerewolf
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @TheWerewolf

      Coming out and going to be thrown-up by most users.
      gribittmep
  • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

    Didn't they do something similar with Snow Leopard and Leopard? Seems like when they switch to a different line of big cats all together that they take longer to release the next update.
    slickjim
  • This is a developer preview!

    Hell, it's not even feature complete. Expect a full-version at WWDC, [i]whenever[/i] that is, with GA in late-July, early-August. Which puts it just over a year out from Lion.

    People forget that before the iPhone was released OS X revs were 12-15 months. Leopard was pushed back when resources were transferred to iOS from Mac OS. We're just about 11 years into the OS X era, and we're now on the eighth version (10.0-10.7).
    matthew_maurice
  • I hope they finally ditched the single menu approach

    No very intuitive compared to the mobile devices.
    happyharry_z
  • So pay Apple $30 every year for a new OS is OK?

    So I used my WIndows XP laptop for 5 years without ever paying another cent for an upgrade. I spent $89 for Windows 7 upgrade which I will probably use at least 5 years.
    One has to wonder why I have to spend $30 or more a year to update OS X? I can understand why Apple cannot attract much Enterprise interest. Apple is making too much money selling consumers upgrades every year.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • Why would you have to upgrade?

      @jscott418 There is no reason to upgrade the OS your computer came with unless you wanted the new features. Patches and security updates arrive free. Pay your OS vendor when they come up with something you want or when the OS gets shipped with the new hardware you want.

      How hard is that?
      ShockMe
      • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

        @ShockMe Given the amount of software which "requires" the new version of OS X each time, if you need to keep your toolset up to date, you often have to keep your OS up to date as well.

        I'm hoping they found a bit of time to optimise the code this time, since Snow Leopard and Lion, my iMac has been running like a dog. I keep thinking of going back to Tiger or Leopard.
        wright_is
      • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

        @ShockMe IDK wright_is, it seems like the more likely scenario is that software that once worked fine will break when the new OS arrives and that folks with mission critical apps will be cautious in upgrading unless the software application rather than the OS supports a time-saving feature.
        ShockMe
    • $29 a year for a new OS is OK and FANTASTIC.

      @jscott418 : $29 a year for a new OS each year is OK and FANTASTIC. Apple keeps improving its product. We all benefit. That is such a low cost for a new OS. You will waste more money eating at a fast food restaurant a couple of times a year. It's like 4 Starbucks coffees. Only the cheapskates would complain.

      Further, you don't have to upgrade. Just like cheapening out by using Windows XP for 5 years without upgrading and depriving Microsoft of the $89 for the upgrade, you don't have to upgrade to the latest, greatest Mac OS X. You don't have to buy new software. You can keep using what you've got.
      jameskatt
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @jscott418, so what you are saying is you elected NOT to upgrade your Windows box for 5 years. Suppose you had upgraded to Vista, then to Windows 7. Would that have cost you less than $150? (5 years of Apple upgrades as $30 a year). Apple and Windows have something in common here, you not need to upgrade if you do not want to. It seems to me Microsoft upgrades cost more and they are few and far between. Apple upgrades are annualized but much cheaper.
      YaBaby
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @jscott418, I love these arguments because they make absolutely no sense what so ever.

      I could easily choose not to upgrade my Mac for 5 years and not pay a DIME as well. So what's your stupid point then?
      roadrash1964
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @jscott418 You definitely do not have to upgrade your OS, unless you want the new features, but how much would it have cost if you had upgraded to Vista in between? (I mean if you are suggesting upgrading to every OS X release, then you would be suggesting upgrading every Windows Release as well, right?)

      Also, be sure to factor in how much you have spent on basic DVD Authoring tools, Anti-Virus, Firewall Software, Photo Management tools, etc.

      That's not factoring in less time spent on maintenance and the fact that the machines last longer.

      Honestly, PCs are a lot more expensive over time, so $30/year is not that big of a deal.

      Oh, I also forgot to mention that when bought through the App Store that $30 is good for upgrades on up to 5 machines...so how much would it cost you over 5 years to upgrade 5 PCs and then what does that work out to per year?
      cmwade1977
  • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

    Apple does not have the luxury to stand still when Microsoft most important change in its OS history ever is about to be released next fall.
    This is a strong enough motivation to keep things going.
    TheCyberKnight
    • Heard that every release

      Next Win release will again be two releases behind (back to the XP days)

      MS had hoped Apple would follow their touch on the desktop. Thankfully this is not the case. Future not looking good for the MS direction.
      Richard Flude
  • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

    Since Snow Leopard was Leopard with the worst bugs fixed, maybe Mountain Lion (Puma2, Painter?) will be Lion with the major bugs fixed. I HOPE so! We still have PLENTY of folks who are sorry they upgraded to or bought Lion due to wireless network problems that it introduced. We currently recommend those on Snow Leopard STAY THERE (or run Lion in a VM like Parallels ON Snow Leopard).
    cestrauss
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @cestrauss That's what I keep hearing and that's why I am indeed sticking with Snow Leopard. It's Vista all over again.
      spin498
    • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

      @cestrauss I had wireless issues, dropped connection, on my MBP for a short time after the upgrade to Lion but the first OS update after then seemed to take care of any issues I had.
      non-biased
  • RE: Seven months on: Too much, too soon for a major Mac OS X update?

    Personally I hate LION...one cannot use the Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard and the Kensington Expert ball mouse substitute with it as it causes insane mouse and keyboard errors that updates do not solve. Sure that is the fault of the manufacturers of the third party products but Snow Leopard is flawless with these devices. Some of the arcane incompatibilites with Lion are insurmountable without the appropriate mouse input, the Finder using show by date or modification is not possible as there is no way to scroll sideways it seems...I am thus stuck using tracking devices strapped onto other devices to do simple tasks. The annoyance of moving up and down the finder without an Apple device is no small thing for an artist trying to get work done seamlessly. This is not it..I am running Snow Leopard and will stay with it on two desktop machines and on the iMac I found that I could run it from an external drive with Snow Leopard also and thus, Lion is in his cave unused much of the time. To dumb down the OS for iPad users might be good business but for a computer user it is a huge step in the wrong direction. I have no issues with those that want to work the way the new system is set up but it is not always useful to those such as I who need a computer interface and not an iPad duh uh...dumbed down one. I figure it will be a few years before I need to revisit this if newer software become incompatible with Snow Leopard and hopefully I and other power users are listened to and there are ways to run the OS in a more compatible mode using other input devices. The Apple keyboard is too tiny for my hands and the big ugly Microsoft keyboard is perfect for me but with Lion, it does not work in spite of the update but instead causes all sorts of conflicts with other input devices in my experience.
    nfiertel