Disclaimer: it was only after I had thought of the pun in the title that I discovered that the proper pronunciation of 'Yosemite' is not from the 'Marmite' and 'Vegemite' stable (as it were). I don't care; the title stays.
This week has seen the release of the latest version of Apple’s OS X operating system - Yosemite. Is it just me, or do OS updates seem to follow very hot on each others’ heels these days? It was barely a few months ago that I was updating to Mavericks; this time last year, my Mac was still running Lion.
I’m as big an Apple fanboy as the next person, but I do start to get the impression they’re just pumping these things out for the sake of it. An operating system update is a pretty stressful time in a person’s life… Will all my apps still be compatible? Will I have to spend lots more money on more updates to make sure everything will run smoothly?
Apple don’t have a particularly great record on backwards compatibility - from a personal point-of-view, I am running various pieces of specialist software for my work (applications like Sibelius, Logic Pro and Reason), and I don’t want to be stuck in a situation where my Mac won’t run these programs properly post-upgrade. Yes, of course I would backup everything before doing any big upgrades so I can always restore my system to how it was before - but isn’t that all such a tremendous faff, if it turns out the upgrade has made things worse?
And then there’s the question of whether the new system will even work on older machines at all… Although the upgrade to Mail, and the iCloud drive, are both very attractive (and long overdue!) updates, there is surely a limit to the amount of upgrading my 2009 MacBook Pro (which recently celebrated its fifth birthday!) will handle. How much extra RAM and CPU will all of Yosemite’s ‘translucent’ cosmetic tweaks and gimmicky new features (like making a phone call from your Mac) be eating up?
Despite all of this, I will still end up downloading Yosemite when it becomes available in the Autumn - albeit with some considerable trepidation! This is partly just because I am a sucker for some shiny new Apple stuff - but, more importantly, because I don’t want to let myself get left behind.
Sure, you can skip one OS update - possibly even two - but after that, you start to lag behind the development curve, and eventually you start missing out on things. Witness the complaints from people still using even older Macs than mine, with old PowerPC processors, for example! Sorry guys, that’s life; you can tread water for a while, but in the end you get swept away.
With each new OS release, I become more and more nervous that my older Mac and older software will prove to be no longer up to the job.
Of course, no piece of technology lasts forever - in today’s world to have a five-year-old laptop which still runs as well as any you buy new is actually pretty good going! Eventually, there will come a time when I need a hardware upgrade, not just a software overhaul.
As in politics. a year is a long time in technology - but to people who have bought an expensive new Mac and want to be able to pay off the consequent enormous credit card bill before their machine is rendered obsolete by technological advances and they have to get a new one, a year is not very much time at all. Personally, I would happily have carried on using OS X Mavericks for another year or another eighteen months, if something newer and (supposedly) better hadn’t come along.