Apple Operating System Release Cycles

Thoughts By 5 years ago

A while ago I was planning to bug on how buggy the operating system OSX Lion was when it came out. Programs like Xcode had particular difficulty staying stable, which made it hard for developers to work, almost to the point where entire hours would be eaten up trying to make Xcode stable enough to work on.

Now its worth noting that this happened when Lion came out, now I find the system rock solid, I haven’t had a single system crash for at least 6 months. However my colleague who has been using Mac’s ever since OS 9 has informed me this is standard procedure for Apple and their release cycles, and having used iOS since 2.0, its easy to see a pattern in the release cycles Apple use for introducing new operating systems.

Whenever Apple release a new operating system, bugs are to be expected, big bugs as a matter of fact. But obviously Apple slowly release fixes, the vast majority come within a few months of the first big release, and this makes the operating system stable as time goes by. Exactly the same thing happens with iOS, however since iOS is strictly controlled it contains less application specific bugs.

It’s worth noting that I don’t see this kind of problem happening on Microsoft Windows, I have had XP running for almost 10 years now and it has always been very sturdy (I’d say on average 1 crash per year, and that is usually due to hardware malfunctions). That’s not to say it didn’t have its problems when it first came out, but personally I have noticed that when Microsoft makes an operating system I feel like it has gone through a stricter process of quality control.

As for Linux I can’t really comment, I have only ever used Linux for specific purposes, never for any kind of GUI interface, but I imagine that Linux being community driven undergoes strict quality control testing as well.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft only release an operating system once every 5 years or so, Apple have taken to releasing new operating systems nearly every year or 2. It has long been asserted that Apple drip feed their consumers features, this allows them to focus on specific differences in operating systems while fine tuning the changes.

It seems to me like Apples rapid release cycle is a good idea, having new features every year keeps consumers entertained, and your product fresh. It may annoy people at the start of every release cycle to get a plethora of bugs, and I can see that the corporations wouldn’t be thrilled about having to test their software and security every year with a release, but for 11 months out of 12 you are using new features that you would otherwise not be getting the benefit from.