Are there any downsides for MacOS's Annual update?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by mavericks7913, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. mavericks7913 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2014
    Some people told me not to update the most recent MacOS due to bugs, compatibility of apps, unstable OS, and more but to update every 2 years.

    Other guy said that he needed to update for the newest MacOS cause Adobe programs always update base on the recent OS.

    Any thoughts about the annual updates for MacOS so far? Would it be a stupid idea if I update MacOS 1~2 years later?
  2. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Dec 20, 2013
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    the annual update has ruined OS X for stability. basically, it's never done. I usually wait until at least the .5 rev of any update before considering it. professional video/design shops are often a year or two behind. In fact a lot of folks hung onto 10.6 for several years. the 2 shops I do work at each have over a dozen systems, all on 10.10. my personal work systems are on 10.10. Adobe is usually a reason to not upgrade.
  3. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    I agree with thats all folks, OS X was more stable before Apple started annual update. Currently it seems that OS is released regardless if its ready or not and given the bugs in the latest releases (10.10-10.12) at the launch (broken WIFI, USB3, PDFKit bugs etc.) its quite clear that they were released way too early.

    Previously I had waited for .3 version before updating but currently it seems its better to wait .4 or .5 if one wishes to avoid trouble and especially if third party software is involved. Skipping 1 or 2 releases seems smart if one doesn't need the features. In other words why fix something that isn't broken?
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    There's nothing that forces you to update. Find "a place that you're comfortable" and stick with it.

    I'm happily "back at El Capitan" and will stay there for the foreseeable future.

    I retired my 2010 MacBook Pro about a month ago. That came with 10.6.3 installed, and the "farthest" I ever took it was 10.6.8. It ran fine for all the years I used it.
  5. bartvk macrumors 6502


    Dec 29, 2016
    The Netherlands
    If you care about security, you update.

    Almost all security fixes are made for both the current and the last version, but not all of them.
  6. CreatorCode macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2015
    Security fixes are released for the versions that need them. The latest versions need more patches because they introduce new vulnerabilities.

    So long as you're using a supported version (10.10.x or higher, as of this writing) you should be okay.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm not a fan because it seems they roll out smaller feature improvements that seem a bit less stable.

    With that said, I think the state of operating systems has matured to the point where there's not really much they can do, i.e., no major features left to add. OS X is a robust OS and any updates from now own will be smaller in scope.
  8. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    Citation needed.
  9. Scary Spice macrumors regular

    Scary Spice

    Jul 31, 2015
    British Columbia
    The main downside is all the wimp whining and complaining that we must endure from all the draconian anti-upgraders.

    The net effect of the annual upgrade cycle is positive.
  10. Apple 26.2 macrumors 6502a

    Apple 26.2

    Jan 1, 2011
    What up, 212?!
    I upgrade OS every couple of years, but that's more out of laziness than anything else. Regarding the periodic updates, I usually wait 2-3 weeks for the bugs to get ironed out.
  11. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    Only kids, granmas, granpas and idiots like me update every year. Usually every update implies losing some level of compatibility with older hardware and software. The newer and nicer features you get with updates are never exactly what you needed in terms of new features. You always get new stuff you don't need and lose some old stuff you needed. Ports from Macports need recompiling, your audio interface becomes buggy or not compatible at all, your licensed software requires upgrade fees. Unless you are just an Average Joe who buys a Retina Macbook just for watching movies and doing connectivity pyrotechnics with iStuff to impress your granma (continuity, handoff, shared clipboard, icloud fusion drive, and so on), you're better off keeping your current OSX.
  12. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I accept the quick upgrade cycle and technology deprecation as the price of the OS and ecosystem. Apple does not look back and has no second thoughts about removing features that they no longer want to support. Their security strategy is similarly largely focussed on the last release, what you get in security updates is on a best-effort basis.

    If I want nothing to change at all, I would be using a particular release of Windows or a Linux distro such as Debian.
  13. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    Yep, you're right from Apple's perspective, but if you're not living in USA, sometimes the decision of selling/throw away older hardware to buy newer one is not possible. There are importing taxes in welfare states which forces us to make the best choice at the first bet. This said, upgrading macOS usually forces users to upgrade their hardware and their licensed software. I'm not a fan of spending money without any solid reason to do it, so the best option is keeping your OSX/macOS at the version in which your hardware and third-party software is compatible.
  14. thingstoponder macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2014
    Software is never "done". Even discontinued software isn't done. There's always bugs.

    I haven't had any issues with updating every time other than some odd crashing problems in Yosemite that started happening late in it's cycle.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 15, 2017 ---
    Yep. People always complain about how the updates don't add many features but I can't imagine not having all the new features released over the last few years. Picture in picture, iCloud Drive, Trackpad Gestures, window snapping, Photos app, compressed memory, UI redesign, Safari updates.

    I can't believe some people are still on Snow Leopard...
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    bartvk wrote:
    "If you care about security, you update.
    Almost all security fixes are made for both the current and the last version, but not all of them."

    I don't particularly care about "security", so I don't update until I'm actually -in need of- updating.

    Some folks require older versions of the OS so that they can continue to use older software.

    I've been a Mac user for 30 years now.
    Never used "live antivirus software". I have used "Disinfectant" on the Classic Mac OS, and I use MalwareBytes Anti-Malware for Mac now.
    But it's not stuff that "continuously scans".

    During those 30 years on many Macs...
    I've NEVER had a virus infection of ANY kind, ever.
    I've NEVER had a trojan, or related kind of attack.

    I just retired a 2010 MacBook Pro that I kept on OS 10.6.8 for almost 7 years.
    It ran fine for all that time, and even though I now keep it in its original box, it will still boot up just fine.

    Maybe there is something on my Macs, invisible, that I can't see.
    If so, whatever it is, it makes them run GREAT, keep those kinds of infections coming, please!
  16. brdeveloper, Jan 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017

    brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    If you own old hardware, it's the way to go. Upgrading will bring you more problems than solutions. If you're always buying new hardware, then fine, it's worth upgrading.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 16, 2017 ---
    I have a Late-2009 White Macbook running El Capitan smoothly. I think it could be perfectly fine on Snow Leopard, although SL's Safari became unusable, so I would have to move to Chrome. Perhaps the sweet spot would be Mountain Lion if it was freely available. Would run even CUDA on the 9400m.
  17. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    Some die-hard developers still support Snow Leopard. At one point you just have to accept that Snow Leopard has ancient technology. No ARC, no Auto Layout and base localization, tons of deprecated Cocoa APIs, no Swift.

    Macs with Snow Leopard are basically frozen in time and get no optimisations and bug fixes in any of the many system frameworks that Apple maintains. Even at a basic level, you are not getting any efficiency gains by sticking with whatever software the device came with. The web engine is a good example. Safari is unusable in Snow Leopard, because it just cannot handle modern web standards or the overuse of JavaScript.
  18. iKnowMr.Jobs macrumors regular


    Oct 17, 2010
    There's certainly advantages and disadvantages to both approaches: annual updates and major updates every few years. The advantages of the latter seem much more appealing on the surface: one major release to focus on for at least 18 months-2 years to squash bugs & improve stability, etc. Annual updates allow Apple to continuous add feature (even though its usually no more than a handful) every year while constantly tweaking the OS, at the risk of stability. Certainly this works on phones relatively well but on the Mac, its still a relatively new concept.

    My thoughts as to why Apple switched to this model is so that they can avoid a whole "Vista situation". Microsoft encounter countless issues when developing Vista and delayed the release numerous times, which lead XP to be the latest release for approximately 5 years. Microsoft couldn't develop a new OS in a timely fashion and left their current operating system to stagnate. If we turn back to clock to the 90s, Apple actually encounter similar issues.

    I feel the argument for and against annual updates pretty much evenly, but I'd probably lean a little closer to having annual release. I use Picture in Picture quite a bit more than I expected to and occasionally ask Siri what NBA games are on tonight. iCloud Drive improvements in Sierra makes it sooooo much more of a viable cloud storage option than before. I'm glad that I didn't have to wait 18-24 months after El Capitan to get these features.
  19. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    I'm glad those features are beneficial for you. I think Snow Leopard was the golden era of OS X, many features added afterwards are not beneficial for my needs.

    While Mavericks had some beneficial changes (compressed memory, Safari improvements) I'm very annoyed that Apple currently includes new features that cannot be fully disabled (Siri, iCloud drive, Photos etc.). I counted my barebones Sierra installation, after I disabled all the features I don't need from the System Preferences I noticed from Activity monitor that the related processes are still running in the background (about 20-25 background processes/ deamons). I disabled SIP and tried to disable those processes with launcctl without success.

    It seems Apple has different idea what "disabled" means, I would expect that when I disable something from System Preferences it would also disable all the related processes. Currently those processes take about 800 Mb of real RAM which I could use for better purposes.
  20. brdeveloper, Jan 17, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017

    brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    I agree. Snow Leopard could do most of the important stuff (targeted to professional usage) we need these days. As downsides, we get an outdated Safari, and Bootcamp doesn't support anything newer than Windows... Vista? I had a Mac Mini on this setup a year ago (SL 10.6.8 + Vista Ultimate 64bit). Vista was blazing fast in my Core2Duo 2010 Mini with a SSD and 16GB RAM, although it couldn't run a 64 bit version of Internet Explorer (or any other popular browser). It was just a matter of a person build Chrome or Firefox for Vista 64, but they ceased support for anything older than Win7. So I ended up upgrading to El Capitan and Windows 10. They're pretty good, but now my old hardware (film scanner, audio interface) aren't fully compatible. As you can see, in its core, Snow Leopard is pretty usable in most aspects, except watching movies on the web (because in this use case you need a 64 bit browser for smooth playing).

    Lion added FileVault 2. Quite nice, although I use Undercover anti-theft, so FV2 is not an option. I need a guest account so the thief can play with my Mac while he/she is tracked.

    Mountain Lion added Fusion Drives. Not really nice these days when SSDs are pretty inexpensive, but it played a great role pushing Apple profits (offering a combination of a small SSD and a big HDD).

    Mavericks added the best under-the-hood improvement of the described OSX versions here: compressed memory. Now my 8GB Mac usually behaves like a ~10GB machine.

    The last three OSX versions, however, only added iOS integration gimmicks. Not useful at all, except for lazy/very sedentary people, that is, you can stay forever on your couch while you answer your phone or send it clipboard stuff from your Mac. Come on, it's not a reason to upgrade. Kext signature protection? This is basically for pushing users to upgrade hardware, since older drivers don't work. As soon as a hacker has root access to your Mac, you're lost, doesn't matter if drivers are safe. However, if he/she doesn't have root access, your drivers are still safe, at least while you preserve the original system folders' permissions.

    Summary: Mavericks had the last relevant under-the-hood improvement for OSX. If you own old peripherals, you're better staying on Mountain Lion or Mavericks.
  21. thomasareed macrumors member


    Aug 24, 2015
    Updating is important, for security reasons.

    Folks using anything older than 10.10.5 are using systems with known vulnerabilities, and they're only relatively safe doing so because most Mac users DO update, leaving the hackers with few reasons to target those older systems. That doesn't mean they won't ever do so, just that they haven't so far because they're going after bigger fish.

    It's certainly reasonable to wait and let others ride the bleeding edge, and see what the results are, before updating. However, avoiding updating entirely is likely, sooner or later, to cause you pain.

    Don't listen too much to people in forums complaining that an update is bad. I've been in forums for over a decade, and one thing I've learned in that time is that many people have old or junk software that turns out to be incompatible with newer systems, or have other pre-existing issues (like a bad hard drive or a badly corrupt system), and then blame the update for tripping over those things. This is a problem that is only getting worse with the proliferation of adware and scammy junk software.

    That's not to say that bad updates don't happen... but you've got to balance the dangers of not upgrading against the fears of upgrading. When evaluating the stability of a new update, don't listen to forums, pay attention to legit media and well-known tech blogs instead. They can filter the noise for you.
  22. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    While I agree in principle there are a few questions left unanswered:

    1. Given the new features that require internet in 10.10-10.12 I wonder if they contain vulnerabilities that could be used for nefarious purposes by criminals? Since older OS doesn't contain those features it isn't potentially vulnereable in similar manner?

    2. How large % of vulnerabilities are applicable to both previous and current OS versions? I haven't been able to find solid information, only speculation.
  23. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    I agree. New features added to macOS are mostly cloud-based stuff, that is, chances are you're providing more points where security can be broken. Also, thomasareed talked something about "scammy junk software". Well, there is a lot of peripherals that don't work on Sierra or only partially work. If you buy a new Mac today, you won't probably need any upgrading, but if you own old hardware, you're better off expecting... perhaps a year or two or perhaps never. Musicians, photographers and even developers should think twice before upgrading. Now, if you're an office user who only do ordinary office stuff (Word, Excel, Safari browsing), upgrading won't do any harm.
  24. Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    An operating system is essentially a big complicated program that lets multiple other big complicated programs live in relative harmony on the same system. Sure, there are features in any given operating systems, but the key drivers are all of the other programs you use.

    This is why some say that video production houses, professional musicians, etc. should be cautious about upgrading to the latest OS, since multiple things can break.

    The advantages/disadvantages of upgrading your OS are highly dependent on what you do with your system, what programs you rely on. If you aren't running those Adobe programs like that other guy, well, you don't need to worry about those, but you do need to be concerned about the programs you do rely upon (none of which you bothered to mention).

    The biggest problem with staying behind is that third-party software developers will eventually obsolete older versions of the operating system by no longer making new features available to those systems running the older OS.

    Ideally, if you are reliant on a certain set of applications, you upgrade the OS to the latest version on a secondary boot drive as well as all of the applications. If it doesn't work, you resume booting off from your normal boot drive. Upgrade the secondary boot drive on a regular basis to see if problems have been fixed. When a new major update of the OS comes out, get another secondary boot drive and continue the process.

    This may lead you to have multiple boot drives, each with different software package versions from different eras, all more or less matches to the OS of the time.

    Do I keep an archival boot drive for every major macOS release? (10.12, 10.11, 10.10, 10.9, etc.) No, I do not. But I do have a 10.6 Snow Leopard boot drive (the original version for my 2010 vintage Mac mini) and another boot drive from a few years ago (probably Mavericks). The 10.6 Snow Leopard drive has the last supported version of the iLife apps available for that era. The Mavericks boot drive has the same, plus iWork apps. Oddly, this drive is more of a pain to run these days since much of the Apple cloud services have changed, so there are incompatibility issues between an older, slightly cloud aware version of the macOS (former OS X) and today's iCloud services. By contrast, the Snow Leopard boot drive is basically blissfully unaware of the cloud.

    Especially with the advent of the App Store, you really need to update the apps to the current version as supported by your OS. Eventually, the older versions are pulled and if you are running a boot drive with an older OS, you often cannot update your apps to the last supported version for that particular OS.

    Meaning, if I built a brand-new Snow Leopard boot drive today for my venerable Mac mini, most of the apps I would want I wouldn't be able to find. Sure, it would run fine with the basic pre-installed apps and I could probably source the last Combo Update for the OS, but in some cases, it would be nearly impossible to find the last/best version of other programs for that specific OS. By having retained a secondary external Snow Leopard boot drive from circa 2008 (or so), I have a snapshot in history. My 10.6 Snow Leopard boot drive has copies of Final Cut Express, LiveType, iPhotos, the old iMovie HD, iDVD, and iWeb. I can't buy a copy of the last version of Final Cut Express today.

    By making OS upgrades free, Apple has removed the primary barrier for Joe Consumer to update to the latest and greatest version of the OS. This means that third-party developers have fewer systems running older OS versions to support which leads to them to stop supporting those older OSes rather quickly (unlike Windows developers who are compelled to support large numbers of systems running legacy OSes).

    In summary, there is nothing wrong with running a macOS that is running 1-2 years behind the current version, but you want to keep up with updates on a secondary boot drive simply because if you are running a 4-year-old OS and want to upgrade to something that is 2-years-old, you probably won't find the matching applications based on the way that Apple and third-party developers sunset discontinued versions of their apps.

    Good luck.
  25. ssmed macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2009
    One of the big issues for me is that we run bespoke business software and a few other specialist applications. If we buy a new computer – replacement or new user, they will always have the latest OS. Downgrading may not be possible and is definitely not supported (based on the response from Apple Support). This means that we end up having to change business software to support one user or buy older computers. And who wants to have a non-computer savvy staff member on the road with a buggy X.0.0 software release!

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