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Summary:

Apple is celebrating a big milestone today, as its Mac OS X operating system turns 10. We probably won’t see a major update to the OS Macs are running before next year, but when it does come it probably won’t look much like it does today.

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Apple is celebrating a big milestone today, as its Mac OS X operating system turns 10. That’s 10 years since the first beta of the successor to Mac OS 9 was introduced. On the Mac side of things, OS X played a key role in the reinvention and reinvigoration of Apple, a company that had seen a lengthy stint of turmoil and trouble up to that point.

The first iteration of OS X, 10.0, was ironically named “Cheetah,” despite obviously being the slowest in the series now. After Cheetah came Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard and now, Snow Leopard. Each big cat nickname represented a major point update to the operating system (e.g., 10.1, 10.2, etc.). A screenshot below shows you what OS X 10.0 looked like, so you can see how far it’s come visually if you aren’t familiar.

I hope I don’t get any longstanding fanboys jumping down my throat by admitting this, but I came in around the Panther/Tiger point in OS X history. As a child, I’d used earlier iterations of Mac OS, but I wasn’t ever a Mac owner until I got a used eMac running Panther, which I upgraded soon after to Tiger. Even though I’ve only experienced a truncated version of OS X’s update history, it’s safe to say I’ve seen things change a great deal for the better.

Snow Leopard was released over a year ago, in August 2009. Leopard was released nearly two years prior, in late October 2007. Snow Leopard has the distinction of being an upgrade that didn’t really bring a ton of new features to the table, but rather optimized and enhanced Leopard, a distinction which resulted in much lower upgrade pricing for existing users.

OS X 10.6 is the cherry atop the lovely sundae that is Apple’s latest operating system. It’s a fond farewell to a cat that’s grown rather long in the tooth, and I don’t think we’ll see a 10.7 in the series. Why? Apple has another OS it’s pushing, and it’s clearly serious about it. I’m talking about iOS of course, which recently got a name change that makes it much more platform agnostic than the original iPhone OS. Sure, that’s because it’s on the iPad now, but if you think Apple doesn’t have plans beyond that device, you’re kidding yourself.

We probably won’t see a major update to the OS Macs are running before next year at the earliest, but when it does come it probably won’t look too much like it does today. It’ll have to stand astride two worlds, the world of Macs we know and love now, and the world of the touch-based devices of tomorrow.

  1. Don’t feel bad. Though I’ve been a Mac loyalist since 1995 (interestingly enough, the same year the “revolutionary” Windows 95 hit), I didn’t get OS X until the end of 2002 when I upgraded from my iMac to a custom built PowerMac.

    Since then, Apple has consistently led the way in product innovation. From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad (which I honestly didn’t think would catch on).

    Far from perfect, Apple still tries to improve and innovate and take the step toward product and user integration. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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  2. I don’t think the current IOS would work for a computer OS. its not powerful enough, and its more suited for a touch screen computer. Which I expect Apple to make soon enough.

    A Mix of IOS for Navigation, but with more power from SL, would be great.

    Though I’ll bet there will be a 10.7.

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    1. Apple has already made a touch screen computer. They called it the iPad.

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      1. The iPad is a media consumption device – like a computer, but with foetal alcohol syndrome.

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  3. Not jumping on anyone. I’d think there’s always some next rev OS on a company’s roadmap. I got a G4 with Panther and just now updated my Mac to a Mac Pro running Snow of course. Speculation is always interesting. I remember the discussion of flash(the memory technology)-based iPods. The back and forth. Now, the iPad naysayers. How many tablets will be out this Christmas? Without the iPad, would there be any? I am 48 and really just enjoying how far we’ve come the last 30 years or so.

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  4. Sensationalist crap.

    Sorry, but there are references to 10.7 in numerous public (and private) locations. Go sign up to download Xcode and search the headers of the most recent release.

    At some point, the two operating systems will come together, but Macs are still required for creating iOS apps: If Apple let the Mac stagnate, iOS will stagnate as well.

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    1. From My understanding he si not saying that the will put IOS on macs but rather the mac os will be renamed and rebranded as part of the IOS label. though it may bear nop resemblance ti the current version of IOS

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      1. iOS is built on OSX technologies. Whether they re-brand Mac’s os or not, it’s all the same operating system and will be for many years to come.

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      2. Exactly. There are essentially two versions of Mac OS, each optimized for the type of hardware it runs on. And, as long as the world doesn’t give up desktop and laptop computers (which seems very unlikely, considering the advantages of those), we are going to see both of them.

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  5. Claim Chowder.

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    1. Nice!!
      i’d never seen that expression! i’m definitely keeping this one in mind!!
      So totally applicable here!
      ;-)

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  6. im kinda apprehensive about the entire thing… We all understand how fantastic the touch based OS have been but transferring that over to our laptops? Apple will have to come up with something TOTALLY revolutionary that could bridge these two worlds. I am excited but worried at once! I cant wait!!

    http://www.danfonseca.wordpress.com

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  7. What nonsense.

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  8. I am very disappointed at Apples attention at its iPod’s and iPad’s, I don’t care for them as much as the Mac and I want Apple to be Apple Computer company but it changed names! Which was unnecessary and caused most of your followers to give up hope! Steve Jobs’s, If 10.7 or XI doesn’t come out soon, the rest of your fans will give up hope. :(

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  9. Without Mac OS, you cant developer for iOS.
    I dont think they can push iOS fasten enough to no push out 10.7

    iOS doesnt do real multitasking. You cant edit or input stuff like video on an iPad. Its a consumer device.
    iMacs and even more so Mac Pro’s create the content for iOS devices.
    Kinda see that iOS is reliant on the Mac OS.

    10.7 will be here.

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  10. It’s actually kind of sad that OS X has stagnated since the success of iOS. The only recent upgrade to OS X are iTunes and XCode, both of which are really iOS upgrades.

    While Apple is staring itself blind at the consumer market, MS or Google could release a real new OS meant for production computers. And while I’m dreaming, maybe Adobe should release a ‘Creative OS’. Hah!

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    1. Don’t be that negative. I think 2011 will be the year of a new Mac OSX (or whatever new name they will give it). 2010 has been about iPad, iOS, iPhone 4, new iPods, Ping, Apple TV and new Macs so far. Next year, the focus will be on the only thing that was left out this year: Mac OSX.

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      1. Interesting, I had this idea in mind as well. It would make complete sense. People already said similar things when there was no Mac OS section in this year’s MacWorld. 2011 is highly likely to be dedicated more to Mac OS.

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      2. @KsbjA, Agreed. Couple of months ago, Apple posted a job opening for a position wihtin the Mac OS X group. The new role was said to be about participating in the development of something revolutionary in Mac OS X. So if they do anything major in 2011, it will be way beyond iOS or FaceTime on iPad, it will just be about Mac OS X. I think it will happen.

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