Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Bumping macOS’s Major Version Number

Jordan Rose:

There were four good moments for Apple to switch Mac OS version numbers from 10.X to 11 […] and they missed all of them, instead eventually tying it to the Apple Silicon switchover (what would have been 10.16).

I think about this a lot. They ended up doing it with macOS Big Sur, which had major interface changes in addition to Apple Silicon. The numbers are still out of sync with iOS, and macOS has a lower number even though it’s much older. I still see a lot of confusion from people, e.g. an app requires 10.13 or later and they have 12.0 and think it isn’t supported.


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Similar deal on the Windows side. Several different ways of counting version number, the marketing name has little to nothing to do with it. At least macOS's name is its actual Major Version number.

Especially after the browser vendors starting releasing versions every six weeks and calling it a major version, these things have lost a lot of meaning.

It would be good for them to at least have synced it up with iOS, it's confusing to me sometimes even though I know. The average person who doesn't care about computers has no chance to understand it.

Just another example of the baffling, arcane history of technology.

"At least macOS's name is its actual Major Version number."

That's how I think of it too :-) but I notice Apple mostly using the name name, e.g. Sonoma.

I would also hope that they'd bump Xcode versions a bit where the Xcode version wouldn't be two majors behind the corresponding iOS version.

That’s true, I thought about that after I hit submit. They also seem to be de-emphasizing the number itself. I suppose back when computers were younger and everything really was a low version number it made more sense. A lot of very old programs famously are barely “1.0”.

I suppose it matters less and less, the only important thing anymore is to have a reliable way to check it programmatically. Which also seems to be kind of a mess.

Big Sur is the 17th major version of MacOS, so if they were going to to choose that point to switch to the new numbering scheme, it should have jumped from MacOS 10.15 to … MacOS 17. Followed by MacOS 18 Monterey the next year, and so on. Numbering it as “11” just reinforces an impression that 10.0 – 10.15 were collectively one big major version.

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