Monday, September 27, 2021

Mac OS X 10.1 Puma Revisited

Stephen Hackett:

Jobs said that the software team didn’t take a vacation after OS X shipped, but kept working to improve the operating system. Four point updates had been released over the Internet, but 10.1 was something much bigger.

Phil Schiller came out to discuss Mac OS X 10.1. He reiterated that Mac OS X was Apple’s platform for the future, and that the company’s embrace of open standards and the Digital Hub were both critical to this future — as were things like the Mac’s graphics and Internet capabilities.

The first feature Schiller spoke about was speed, which is one of the biggest knocks against the original version of Mac OS X. He said that the company had been working on this at every level of the operating system.

Indeed, the main thing I remember about Puma, though Apple didn’t really start using the cat names externally until Jaguar, was that it felt much faster (but still slower than Mac OS 9).

For users hopping aboard the Mac OS X train for the first time, Puma cost $129, the same as the original version. However, for customers who had paid for Mac OS X, Apple charged just $19.95 for the upgrade … at least on paper.

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That jives with my recollection. 10.1 was the first truly usable release, but it still was not good enough to switch over for most people. 10.2 did an even better job of polishing OS X, adding features, speeding things up more, and was actually the first release I advised clients/friends to switch over to from the classic Mac OS. Panthers was generally even better (a little brushed metal heavy) and had some further speed improvements. 10.4 was a darn near perfect balance honestly. Leopard was okay, but Snow Leopard was even better. 10.7 Lion had some under the hood improvements but was kind of trash and that's when I tapped out.

I would argue generally OS X got better from beta to 10.6. 10.5 was not as good early on as Tiger but definitely smoothed itself out nicely and the service pack update we refer to as Snow Leopard really polished it up pretty nicely. These days it seems every other release works well enough, but I'm living vicariously through others.

I do miss when it was exciting to see major improvements and changes being done to such critically important software.

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