Apple releases OS X Yosemite today. By now you should recognize this as a familiar refrain from yours truly, but I'm going to say it anyway: Don't upgrade. Just don't do it. At least not yet.
Yosemite's been in developers' hands since June, when it was announced at Apple's WWDC event in San Francisco, and it's also been in the public's hands — in the form of a public beta version that's been iterated several times since its release this summer.
So I, for one, am hoping for a more stable release than we saw of Mavericks, which took months to sort out after it made its debut last fall.
But I'm not counting on it.
Ever since iOS 8 dropped in September there's been incessant chatter on tech blogs armchair-quarterbacking Apple's internal development processes. I've also seen at least a few blogs suggest that Apple's quality assurance measures have gone downhill; that Apple's no longer focusing on quality. Some have even hauled out the well-worn "This never would have happened with Steve Jobs" trope that's been beaten to death since his passing in 2011.
It's all bullshit.
Apple's QA has been a lot worse. Just ask any of us old Mac vets who lived through the "Classic" Mac OS days. And there were a few stinkers on the OS X road too.
Certainly stuff like iOS 8.0.1 shouldn't have happened - killing your new flagship product with an over the air update was just baffling, and I hope some day to learn the story of just how that got out the door.
But the fact is that iOS and OS X are both complex, intricate systems. And Apple has a pretty aggressive update schedule that brings major new versions of its operating systems each year. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for Apple to shake out the problems.
The problem as I see it is that Apple has now made it trivially easy for many of us to upgrade the second we get a notification, so upgrade we do. Anyone on the bleeding edge of an upgrade who experiences problems is likely to complain about it, and social media makes it simple for us to find like-minded people and band together. Even Apple's own discussion forums sometimes give us a distorted sense of the magnitude of technical problems we have with our Apple products.
Before I wrote I had a career in IT, and it was drilled into me by my bosses that we should never be on the bleeding edge of anything because doing so carries risk, and risk costs us profitability. It was a problem, sometimes, because vendors promised the moon if we'd just agree to upgrade our software or hardware. The temptation is to increase productivity — and therefore profits.
That risk aversion is easy to lose when it's not a question of making money, but just of having the newest thing you can. It's easy when Apple releases the software updates for free, too.
It's especially compelling this year, because many Mac users have iOS devices too, and already have upgraded to iOS 8 or may have purchased a new device that already has iOS 8 installed on it. And iOS 8 and Yosemite sport benefits together — in the form of Apple's "Handoff" technology — that promise an experience greater than the sum of their parts.
But if your Mac is stable and working well enough right now with Mavericks, I'd caution you to consider waiting just a little bit of time before upgrading to Yosemite. You really ought to wait and see where the pitfalls are before you jump.
Some of you are reading this and scoffing. You've been using the public beta and you see no reason to wait. Or you really want or need those Handoff features to work right. Or you mistakenly upgraded to iCloud Drive when you switched to iOS 8 and you want to get access to your iCloud documents again.
Before you start crafting an angry retort scoffing at my suggestion, please understand that my advice is not offered as a one-size-fits-all recommendation to everyone — just to those of you reading this who may not have a compelling reason (or think you know better). For those of you, just hang on a bit and see where the problems lie. Then decide when it's time to make the jump to Yosemite.