Seriously, I would like an answer to this question:
What is the purpose of a beta release (in this case, for El Capitan OSX), when the "real" release has numerous, and sometimes serious problems?
In my opinion, the real beta release is the first few minor releases of the major OSX.
The answer, seriously, is that the beta release is designed to expose real-world bugs that might slip through formal internal testing. I think it's a good assumption that it does so. Does it have a chance of exposing all of them? No.
The number of people and configurations that use the official release is so much higher that it's inevitable that problems will be discovered that were not seen during the beta.
To be utterly realistic too, every release of a major operating system or app ships with numerous known bugs - probably many thousands. Companies constantly make decisions about which bugs are showstoppers and which shouldn't delay the long-ago scheduled release.
Thanks, Adam, for the thoughtful response. -- It's just all so frustrating at times. -- I plan on upgrading to El Capitan (from Mavericks), soon. Big jump !!
IMHO Adam's letting Apple off the hook far too easily here. It's not that they can't find all bugs - obviously nobody could. So no sensible person would expect that anyway.
The real problem is that they fail to fix bugs that have been reported. Not only in a timely manner, but not fix them indefinitely. In some cases reports made years ago on older versions of OS X, yet the bug is still there. And despite detailed careful reporting (to eg. apple.com/feedback), bugs don't get fixed and in fact Apple doesn't even care enough to contact the original bug reporter to try to get to the bottom of things.
Apple appears entirely incompetent when it comes to soliciting quality feedback and then acting upon it.
Nope, what counts these days is dumping as many new "hip features" onto impatient nerds as possible and doing so on a fixed annual schedule. Quality, continuity, and care to detail all be damned. There's always advertisement to make up for that.
I miss the old Apple.
Thanks for the comment.
Hopefully not appearing to be back-pedaling, I agree with you. Before retiring, I was a software engineer at a major aerospace firm, so I am familiar with the software-quality issues, to which you refer. And I must say, I tend to agree with you regarding Apple's posture towards fixing known problems.
Walter Isaacson (biographer of Steve Jobs, a few years ago) has observed Steve Jobs wanted the "insides" of Apple computers, to look as good as the "outsides", even if no one else sees the "insides", because, as a (hardware) designer, you know that the entire design needs to be held to a certain standard of excellence, regardless.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid software developers (at Apple, and elsewhere) do not see the design situation that way. (or, at least the majority of developers. I am sure there are some good software people at every firm. Tom DeMarco* had a story: While Tom was leading a software seminar, two hardware people were a team, to develop a "small" program within the context of the seminar, and the program was apparently bug-free. Everyone else in the (seminar) group, was amazed. As part of an explanation, the hardware people stated they "did not know bugs were allowed".) Yes, unfortunately, I am afraid (with respect to software, at least), Apple is transforming itself into merely another American software organization, and in the process, losing any specialness they once possessed.
OSX-wise, I would be perfectly happy to stay with Mavericks, except for the fact that soon, Mavericks will no longer be supported, which means, no more security updates, and no more bug fixes (assuming bugs are being fixed currently). Regarding the OSX gee-whiz features, I use some of them, and like some of them, but they are more conveniences, than necessities, as far as I am concerned.
What really bugs me about the whole OSX update process is the constant introduction of Apple-Mail problems. I just don't understand why Apple is unable to make updates to the Apple-Mail client, without introducing these fundamental problems.
1986. Controlling Software Projects: Management, Measurement, and Estimates. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-171711-1
It's a really interesting situation. You would think that with Apple's money and resources, they'd be able to do a better job under the hood. But I suspect that, because of the mythical man month issue, software teams within Apple don't really have more resources than other companies, and are possibly even more constrained. After all, if all your company produced was Apple Mail, shipping with too many bugs could sink the company. But in Apple's case, a higher up can say "It ships with El Capitan, ready or not." and the Mail engineers have to ship. It's not even irrational, since Apple knows that no matter how bad Mail is (and it's not terrible), they won't lose customers over it. The same is actually true of nearly all Apple software, with the possible exception of iOS (since if it has bad bugs, it ruins whole devices).
Arguably, that's partly why companies like Apple and Google and Amazon and Microsoft are all trying for platform lock-in. Once you've invested enough in hardware (and knowledge), you're not going to switch because a particular OS or app release has problems.
Re: lock-in. A sad state of affairs. Apple used to try to attract customers by being better. Now they want to lock customers in so they don't have to be better.
It used to be possible to do both. Though in the day of the clones we were not strictly limited to Apple hardware. But it's not as if old versions of the Mac OS were bug free on release. It's just that they happened so long ago that most of us who could remember have mostly forgotten them. Indeed, as the Mac OS progressed from OS 7.x through OS 9.x it became increasingly unstable. Over time the system became a real kludge. That's why Apple worked so hard to replace it with a "modern" operating system. Some of us remember the years of struggle Apple went through trying to get Copeland off the ground. It never made it into production. Yet the bifurcated concept behind Copeland (the ability to run both new and old software) made it into OS X, which continued to support OS 9 for years. The same thing happened when Apple switched to Intel CPUs. Rosetta enabled PPC native apps to run on Intel Macs all the way through OS X 10.6.8.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple he killed off the clones and cemented the Apple hardware/OS lock-in. To make that lock-in less onerous Apple eventually created Boot Camp to run Windows natively on Intel Macs, something that was not remotely possible with PPC chips. Intel CPUs also made it possible to run Windows efficiently in virtualization, something that never worked very well on PPC Macs with Virtual PC (though that was an "emulated" environment, not a "virtual" one, which happens to make a significant difference where performance is concerned).
Periodically Apple strips out legacy code to make the OS more efficient. This always involves some loss of backwards compatibility. Other "enhancements" also affect compatibility, though in the case of El Cap and MS Office, it was not about backwards compatibility, except in the case of Outlook for Office 2011. Other apps may never get an El Cap upgrade or an OS fix.
Yosemite had an entirely different problem that eventually forced Apple to revert it's networking framework to the previous, stable version used before OS X 10.10. They took things a bridge too far, to borrow a phrase, and, as far as I know, they have not restored that "innovation" in OS X 10.11.
But Apple is not the only big developer to occasionally advance stupid ideas. There was Windows 8. And the latest update to Adobe Lightroom, version 6.2.1, introduced some absolutely horrid and thoroughly despised changes that Adobe has yet to withdraw. If you were looking for an excuse not to move to Adobe's Creative Cloud, Lightroom 6.2.1 is all the rationale you'll ever need.
I completely agree, though, that Apple software development has fallen off a cliff. It's not just that some of their "innovations" are lame, it's the loss of quality control that really hurts. At least the problem with Office 2016 got fixed relatively quickly. I don't know that Yosemite ever made it to a stable version. Apple just brushed the lint off their shoulders and moved on to El Capitan.
As for Apple lock-in, they never implemented Flash on iOS and have dropped Java support in OS X. On the whole these turned out to be wise decisions as Java continues to be a malware magnet and Adobe never did figure out how to make Flash work efficiently—or securely—on mobile platforms. The so-called Apple lock-in has taken on new dimensions in OS X 10.11 with System Integrity Protection, but for sound security reasons rather than brand exclusivity. At least they haven't made their changes invisible, or unavoidable, the way Microsoft has done with Windows 10 and Adobe did with Creative Cloud. It seems to me that the golden age of computer software development is coming to an end. It's now the age of negligence and stupidity and terrible insecurity.
In my opinion, for what it's worth, while Apple lock-in has always been real to one degree or another, it's also been overblown, especially in recent years. I have plenty of gripes with the direction of Apple software (and some hardware) development, but lock-in is not one of them. While you still cannot run OS X, or iOS, on non-Apple hardware, you can run any OS or app you want on the Mac, while the problem with iOS is a glut rather than a shortage of software.
"I miss the old Apple."
When did this Apple exist? I've been using Macs since 1986 and I can never remember a time when operating systems didn't come out with bugs, large and small. There never was a time when Apple didn't ship buggy software.
Very true. The "old Apple" is a myth, on a par with the notion of the Apple cult (the web site Cult of the Mac notwithstanding), the Apple Tax (higher prices than the competition), security through obscurity and the oldest of old chestnuts (but more popular than ever) ultimate Apple failure—the one that keeps the Macalope busy.
Indeed, the more successful Apple has become, the more persistent are the myths. The publish or perish drumbeat on the tech blogs explains much of this. Dissing Apple is a guaranteed hit generator. Spreading such FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) has become so ubiquitous that people rarely even bother calling it that any more.
Of course the grandaddy of them all is the myth that for Apple to succeed Microsoft must fail—or vise versa. This one appeals to enthusiasts on both sides and still generates heated and ultimately pointless arguments.
Apple fans are, on the whole, far less demonstrative than Chicago Cubs fans, but you don't see people accusing baseball fans of being members of a cult. Other sports fans are even more rabid. People are tribal by nature. So what else is new?
Apple products have traditionally cost more than the competition in large part because of superior Apple build quality. The lower cost of ownership has always largely offsets the added expense.
There were plenty of viruses and trojans for the old Mac OS, even though it was more obscure than OS X (though there were nowhere near as many exploits as there were for comparable versions of Windows). Until recently OS X was more secure because it was harder to hack. But as Apple's profile has grown more black hats have risen to the challenge and Apple has been obliged to implement ever more stringent security measures.
The Apple failure meme was once not far from the truth in the late 1990s, before Steve Jobs returned to the company. Since then, however, Apple has become ever more successful. Yet tech pundits still make a buck from predicting Apple's ultimate collapse. Every new Apple product sees a new round of gloom and doom. Being wrong discourages these pandering pundits not one whit. After all, they're not in the truth, or even the news business. They're just leaches—a common synonym for journalists since the invention of the printing press.
As for the competition with Microsoft, Apple and MS have always had a love/hate relationship. Microsoft was one of the first developers to build software for the Mac. And Bill Gates backed Steve Job's play when he returned to Apple. Internet Explorer was the first major web browser on OS X. Apple even made it possible to run Windows on Intel Macs. Nearly three decades of competition has demonstrated beyond reasonable dispute that there is room in the marketplace for both Apple and Microsoft to be successful. Do they compete with one another? Certainly. But that's all to the good. Both companies and their customers benefit from that competition. Only the fan boys fail to see this rather obvious fact.
It seems to me that the digital universe has grown so huge in recent years that the Apple vs. Microsoft game has become all but irrelevant. It may still be entertaining to some, but it's not really very important to anyone, other than for publicity purposes.
The new Apple is very much of a piece with the old Apple. It has its ups and downs. The pace of change in technology seems to increase every year. Apple is far from the only business struggling to keep up. And Apple customers struggle right along with it. Hence the nostalgia for the non-existant good old days.
El Capitan upgrade from Yosemite was a disaster for me, at least! The u-g changed my French-Canadian set-up to an English one, automatically. After quite a few manipulations, it was back to F-C. Then, Mail was there with all mailboxes, but empty mb. Reconstructing ( sic ) them led nowhere... Then, I noticethat I could not restart from my internal and usual drive. I have now to let the machine on all the time, or do the odd process of using the emergency partition and reinstalling from OS or fromTime Machine. Lost some all my email, and cant really shut the iMac. Really thinking of a Window environment...after being with Apple since the Seventies!
From my iPad!