I am the happy owner of three Apple computers: a really old MacBook Pro, a fairly old iMac and a reasonably new MacBook Pro (the one before the Retina Display model). I’ve also got a Windows desktop and a Linux box, but they aren’t the subject of today’s rant.
As far as operating systems go, OS X is pretty good. It gets the job done, it is easy to use and compared to Windows products… it is reasonably cheap – or it seems to be until you start tallying up the costs of the all too frequent upgrades for which Apple finds new and inventive ways to force us to buy.
My iMac had been used by my wife to edit videos for the best part of three years – the operating system was largely untouched because the software that she needed was for Windows… and much to expensive to replace. So she ran Windows XP through bootcamp and I wondered why she didn’t buy something cheaper and more capable – but I digress. Anyway, to cut a long story short, she needed a new system to be able to handle ever increasing file sizes and I inherited my first Apple desktop. I took it down to my study, plugged it in, turned it on and realized that it was still running Leopard.
I was nonplussed about running an older version of OS X: I didn’t need the App Store, right? I wanted something that I could use for writing and checking our websites. A couple of months later Leopard hit its first wall. A nagging message at the top of Chrome told me that Leopard was no longer supported. Then there were Java issues. Finally, summer came along and a friend sent me a couple of games on Steam – which only worked on Snow Leopard and beyond. I was going to have to upgrade.
I found myself in something of a quandary: I hadn’t seen my Snow Leopard disk since I upgraded my old MacBook Pro and I had moved house since then. My options were backing up a ton of personal files and doing a clean install with Lion, finding a workaround or biting the bullet and buying Snow Leopard again. The inconvenience of entering my credit card details made me hold off long enough to actually find the old disk. So I installed Snow Leopard and normal functionality resumed. I’ll be upgrading to Lion this evening.
Here’s the thing. As far as operating systems go, Leopard and Snow Leopard are pretty much the same thing. The only reason Leopard failed was because Apple decided to not to extend critical updates, ones that affected both security and functionality, to Leopard users. Big deal, it is only a $30 upgrade, Windows costs several times that, right?
Here is the thing. Microsoft has been great about supporting older operating systems. I’m running Windows XP on my office desktop and you know what? It still works. It is an eleven-year-old operating system and it still works. I don’t get any nag screens that tell me my operating system will no longer be supported. Sure, there is no DirectX 11, but it handles everything else perfectly well and it still gets updates. Apple makes billions upon billions, I think they can afford to keep older versions of their operating system properly supported – or they could just make Snow Leopard free.