El Capitan, the latest version of Mac OS X was released this past Wednesday. Yes I despise the name. No, I don't think a major update every year for Mac makes sense. But putting those issues aside, there are some great features both user facing and under the hood in El Cap (that's what I'll call it for this post).
During my five years at Apple, the question I dealt with the most from customers was "should I upgrade to the new whatever software?" For most folks, especially Apple fans, new software is a treat that they can hardly wait for. But for others, it can be scary. And can you blame people? Coming from the PC world, software upgrades are kind of infamous for bugs, crashes, broken software, etc. Even in the wonderful world of Mac, there are still reasons you may want to hold off on a major upgrade. Let's talk about the biggest reasons to both update and not update.
This is not an El Cap review. At this point, there's no need for me to write one. If you feel the need to have someone hand-hold you through every nook and cranny, you can find that at The Verge, CNET and Macworld.
Check your apps
Ever run into another Mac user who's still rolling along with Snow Leopard (a now six year old OS)? The reason for this is because they probably need to run some piece of valuable software that never was updated to run on new versions, especially if that software is how they make their money. Video editors, web designers, engineers, audio producers- for these folks, iCloud integration and a visually enhanced UI doesn't mean shit. They'll cling to that version of Mac OS until you pry it out of their cold, dead grip.
Now I've got you thinking, "You're right, Steve. I'm going to barricade myself in my basement, make bootable backups of my current OS and keep using it until the sky crashes down on my obsolete head!" Well hold on; that's not my point. For most of us, even those who use professional software, the situation I've described is not that common. Both Apple and the major software developers want you to be able to upgrade your OS. They have a pretty decent relationship involving Apple doing a little extra work to support older programs and developers going out of their way to get their apps ready for the latest Mac release.
And yes, sometimes your favorite app may still get left behind on the way to OS X [New]. But before you resolve yourself to never updating your Mac again, consider these options:
- Check with the developer's site to see if they have or are working on an update that's compatible with with the new OS.
- When was the last time that app was updated at all? If you're relying on software that hasn't seen any update love in over a year, it may be time to consider moving away from it.
- If the above is the case, start looking around! Between the emergence of cloud-based apps, the Mac App store, and more folks developing for Mac everyday, you have fairly good chances of finding a modern alternative that you can live with.
- Reach out to fellow users of your software. Hit up forums, message boards, etc. and see what those folks are doing. Maybe they've found a clever work-around that allows you to update your Mac and keep using that software. It never hurts to ask.
There's still a chance that none of this will work. And then you will have to make the decision on whether or not it's worth it to abandon that app and jump to El Cap or settle where you are and dedicate yourself to the software you love. Come back Thursday to see what you actually gain by jumping to El Capitan... I really dislike that name.