Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Mac, the Myth, the Legend

Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac:

Following the news that Apple had refocused their plans for iOS 12 around stability and performance over new features, many were quick to liken the move to a “Snow Leopard release” of iOS. In recent years, the phrase has reached mythological status in the Apple community, a catch-all referring to stable software and “the good ol’ days” of the Mac.

But how did this perception develop? Was Mac OS X Snow Leopard really the gold standard of software releases, an undefeated champion in the halls of computing history? Believe it or not, the meme is almost as old as the software itself.

Snow Leopard practically set the template for the tick-tock MacOS release cycle: Leopard followed by Snow Leopard; Lion followed by Mountain Lion; Yosemite followed by El Capitan; Sierra followed by High Sierra.1 All of these names — and, indeed, many of these releases’ marketing pitches — imply that nearly every major new release since Leopard has been followed by a refined version of that release. However, the ostensibly refinement-type releases haven’t always been markedly faster or more stable — at least, in the x.0 release of each.

I wonder if this is partially or even largely a perception problem. If MacOS had been on a two year cycle — e.g. every refinement-type release and its associated updates were instead delivered as standard software updates — I wonder whether the bad reputation of some releases would be less pronounced. Or, perhaps, if it would simply feel like each version of MacOS is simply unreliable over a greater period of time.


  1. Mavericks being the exception to this pattern. ↩︎