Tuesday, February 10, 2015 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Snowsemite

Mark Gurman:

Following the success of OS X Snow Leopard for Macs in 2009, one of iOS 9’s standout ‘features’ will be a directed focus on stabilizing and optimizing the operating system.

[…]

For 2015, iOS 9, which is codenamed Monarch, is going to include a collection of under-the-hood improvements. Sources tell us that iOS 9 engineers are putting a “huge” focus on fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance for the new operating system, rather than solely focusing on delivering major new feature additions. Apple will also continue to make efforts to keep the size of the OS and updates manageable, especially for the many millions of iOS device owners with 16GB devices.

Clark Goble:

The reason people have such fond memories of Snow Leopard is because they are colored by the end of its life and not its beginnings. But it’s hardly fair to compare 10.6.8 to 10.10.0 or even 10.10.2 (that just came out last week).

I do think it’s a fair criticism that upgrades started coming faster with Lion. Snow Leopard came out August 28, 2009. Lion came out July 20, 2011 nearly two years later. However Mountain Lion came out July 25, 2012, only a year later. It’s been around a year for each release since. That is we no longer have the stability of a year with a solid mature OS with most of the major bugs fixed.

In my recollection, Snow Leopard also started out with fewer bugs than Leopard.

12 Comments

"The reason people have such fond memories of Snow Leopard is because they are colored by the end of its life and not its beginnings."

No. The reason people have such fond memories of Snow Leopard was that it was the EOL for a purely PC-centric OS from Apple that had to been honed to something close to perfection.

The bugginess of what came after is part of what went wrong. But the shift in focus away from core priorities is just as important.

"But it’s hardly fair to compare 10.6.8 to 10.10.0 or even 10.10.2"

Try comparing 10.6.8 to the final release of any post-Snowy OS. That's where you see the 'bugginess' portion of the issue highlighted.

When it comes to OS X, if they keep on releasing updates like Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks and especially Yosemite, they should name the next version Regression, it would be closer to the truth.

@Chucky I think you’re right that when comparing the final versions Snowy was much less buggy. However, I think it was probably also better a year in (e.g. 10.6.4). Interestingly, 10.6.8 was actually released less than a month before 10.7.0.

"However, I think it was probably also better a year in (e.g. 10.6.4)."

Most definitely. I upgraded to Snowy around 10.6.2 or 10.6.3, and found it to be essentially bug-free and rock-solid.

The only significant 'fixes' that caught my attention in latter updates weren't even 'fixes', but instead were feature upgrades: TRIM support for Apple SSD's and the promised full-utilization of the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics chip.

"In my recollection, Snow Leopard also started out with fewer bugs than Leopard."

I think so, too. Also, while it's difficult to make absolute comparisons, I think most people would agree that Mac OS X tended to become more stable on the whole up to the release of 10.7, and started to become less stable with almost every non-bugfix release afterwards.

"I think most people would agree that Mac OS X tended to become more stable on the whole up to the release of 10.7, and started to become less stable with almost every non-bugfix release afterwards."

I don't think anyone can seriously dispute that.

But again, the reason "people have such fond memories of Snow Leopard" is only partly about the even increasing stability that suddenly disappeared, never to again reappear.

Snowy really was the EOL for an OS with the core priority of being the best damn PC-centric OS anyone could make.

I remember being incredibly dispirited watching the "Back to the Mac" keynote announcing Lion, and that was long before the eternal bugginess of post-SnowyWorld was even imagined. That keynote was where it was made abundantly clear that OS X was branching off in a different direction, with radically different priorities...

And back on the bugginess front...

Another difference in Life Up Through Snowy vs Post-Snowy:

Up through Snowy, new OS releases, buggy or not, tended to work just fine on supported older hardware. When they didn't, fixes were rapidly issued.

Post-Snowy, there is generally a long list of horrendous bugs on supported older hardware. And they generally never get fixed.

(And, of course, that's not even getting into the significantly less crucial issue of each successive pre-Lion OS running faster on older hardware than the previous OS, compared to the current state of affairs...)

Snowy. Odd way to label Snow Leopard

All of your hyperbole aside, this is factually incorrect. Some context. In my day job I work with team that supports about 14,000 Macs ranging from eMacs running 10.4.11 to Retina MacBook Pros purchased last week. We have literally thousands of Snow Leopard, Lion and Mavericks machines in production.

"(And, of course, that's not even getting into the significantly less crucial issue of each successive pre-Lion OS running faster on older hardware than the previous OS, compared to the current state of affairs...)"

I work for a school district and we did a lot of actual, you know, quantitative testing. Facts and data as opposed to emotion and hyperbole. And Lion is clearly better performing than Snow Leopard on Late 2006 iMacs (yes we have literally thousands of those still in use every day) and 2007-2009 "pre unibody" MacBooks. If nothing else being able to run Safari 6 vs Safari 5 is a huge win for us. The win was so good, that we're putting 2 GB in those machine and with Lion we believe we'll get at least another two years of daily use out of those Macs.

Move to newer hardware such as the 2010-11 unibody MacBooks that came with 4 GB and Mavericks is measurably more performant than Snow Leopard. Not even close in some of the tasks our kids do regularly. (opening certain apps or certain web sites)

I don't dispute that Snow Leopard was a great release - it had a long life span and had time to really stabilize. But all the doom and gloom about what has come after is, honestly, hysterics and FUD (shame on you). I just love your "with radical different priorities" statement. Because yeah Lion is so radically different from Snow Leopard that there's no way anyone could use it.

I think this echo chamber of negativity that some of you live in really needs to be examined. Some folks seem so caught up in thinking things are a certain way that perspective seems to have been lost.

"If nothing else being able to run Safari 6 vs Safari 5 is a huge win for us."

It could be argued that you could run Chrome on Snow Leopard. Because apparently, some companies are able to figure out how to run the latest version of their web browsers on old OS X release.

Chrome is not an option unfortunately as it has an issue that corrupts data in our student information system.

But thanks for working in another pointless dig at Apple while offering advice.

"Snowy. Odd way to label Snow Leopard"

May seem odd to you, but not my coinage. Try googling. The term has always been semi-popular.

"I don't dispute that Snow Leopard was a great release - it had a long life span and had time to really stabilize."

But, of course, you evade the central argument being made here on bugginess, that Snowy was stable from quite early on - that it had nothing to do with the "long life span" - while succeeding releases never get stable before being EOL'd.

On the secondary performace/bugginess issues:

- I'm willing to partially defer to you on the speed of post-Snowy releases on older hardware. I was relying on numerous second-hand anecdotes for that claim. And your second-hand anecdote certainly deserves input, given your asserted extensive expertise.

- Similarly, I'm relying on numerous second-hand anecdotes for the claim that post-Snowy releases have numerous never-resolved bugs on older hardware, with Michael Tsai providing a couple of those anecdotes himself.

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"But all the doom and gloom about what has come after is, honestly, hysterics and FUD (shame on you). I just love your "with radical different priorities" statement. Because yeah Lion is so radically different from Snow Leopard that there's no way anyone could use it."

Well, I don't feel particularly shamed, honestly. There really was a significant change in priorities and focus post-Snowy. I find it difficult to understand how that is even vaguely controversial. And while I certainly don't claim that succeeding releases are unusable, I do claim that they represent a UX downgrade, one which I personally consider to be rather radical.

Obviously reaction to the changes are quite subjective, given a topic like UX. But if you want to shame me for thinking that way, you're going to have to shame a whole passel of other OS X users as well.

"I think this echo chamber of negativity that some of you live in really needs to be examined. Some folks seem so caught up in thinking things are a certain way that perspective seems to have been lost."

I'm certainly not a tech luddite. I readily welcome change for the better, even when familiar things get dramatically changed. I was a fan of the Classic OS -> OS X transition, which was big change. I was a fan of the OS X progression up through 10.6, (though there admittedly was far less dramatic change there.)

To take the first non-Apple example that pops into my mind, I'm a TiVo fan, and I thought the S4 was an absolute mess compared to the S3. But then I thought they got things close to perfect in the S5. I'm really not averse to positive change; I'm just a stickler for UX and bugginess issues, and try to call 'em as I see 'em.

But in any case, thanks for your exceedingly polite and reasonable reply to my comments. (And after a very quick perusal of your twit feed, I'd say that one of us is most definitely living in an echo chamber that really needs to be examined, and lacks perspective. So we do concur on something.)

Bryan Pietrzak

"But, of course, you evade the central argument being made here on bugginess, that Snowy was stable from quite early on - that it had nothing to do with the "long life span" - while succeeding releases never get stable before being EOL'd."

Actually I can't really comment one way or the other. I simply can't remember what Snow Leopard was like from say 10.6.0 to 10.6.5 (to compare a similar number of patches to say Mavericks).

10.6.0 might have been rock solid. Or it might have been a nightmare. I just can't remember and haven't actually touched 10.6.0-10.6.7 in years and so I really can't offer any opinion or facts one way or the other.

I *suspect* 10.6.0 had just as many annoying issues as 10.7.0 and 10.8.0 and 10.9.0 and 10.10.0 but I really don't remember and so don't see any value in debating that particular argument.

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