Saturday, March 13, 2010

Was 10.3 the best version of OS X?

I'm just about done reorganizing the home network after shutting down my XP server and moving accounts to the newest iMac.

It's been a fairly painful process, due to hardware issues with the iMac (now resolved) and ongoing issues with 10.6 (permissions, firewire peripherals). Now that I've moved all the shares to the 10.6 machine things are looking a bit better.

Today I finished up by reorganizing an old iBook running 10. That old machine is the least troublesome device we own; it reminded me what a pleasure it was to run the later versions of OS X 10.3. It was PPC only of course, and it didn't have all the features of later versions, but it was a high quality product. I think Avie Tevanian still ran Apple's development program back then. Earlier versions of OS X had been understandably raw, but by 10.3 it just worked.

It's never been as good since. The OS offers far more power, but it causes me far more pain.

Why is that?

My working theory is that Apple lost some key engineers around 2003-2005, and they moved their very best people to the iPhoneOS around 2005. Of course many resources were also consumed by the Intel migration.

With all their billions, Apple doesn't have enough of the people they need to make OS X 10.6 as robust as 10.3. That's an interesting story.
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