Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mac OS's Ranked

17) 10.9 Mavericks – An inexplicable update, the only notable new feature being a slower boot time. This was Apple saying, "We can make them do anything" (evilly rubbing hands together).

16) 10.0 Cheetah – OS X's first release after the public beta. The Cheetah codename was an unfortunate attempt at irony.

15) 10.1 Puma – An OS X still not ready for prime time. "Restore the Apple Menu" petitions were rife at this time.

14) 10.7 Lion – The first release in the iOS era. The UI was a mess. No more Rosetta or Save As. Who thought that denim texture was a good idea?

13) 10.2 Jaguar – Well, at least they removed the pinstripes from the dock. Progress is incremental.

12) 10.10 Yosemite – Glad memory's cheap these days. Also, what was with all the spyware? B phoned home even when you opened "About This Mac."

11) 10.11 El Capitan – All the pros and cons of Yosemite but slightly leaner.

10) 10.5 Leopard – Dropped the Classic Environment yet simultaneously introduced new levels of bloat (mostly useless eye candy). The last to support PowerPC.

9) 10.3 Panther – Brushed metal. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Brushed metal.

8) System 7 – Brought many new modern features, but also brought something else we've all become familiar with in OS updates – a slower system. Also, the 7.5 - 7.6 releases had stability issues (mostly related to the PowerPC transition).

7) Systems 1-5 – These first Macintosh systems were rudimentary, but they established the user interface in an unprecedentedly human way. Whereas every other OS made you feel like you were at work, Macs made you feel like you were at home.

6) Mac OS 9 – Like 8.6 but with a bunch of new stuff I never use.

5) 10.8 Mountain Lion – Apple apologizes for Lion.

4) Mac OS 8 – Introduced Platinum, which I've never really been a fan of, although the Finder remained very fast. Had to wait till 8.6 to become stable, then it became like a rock.

3) 10.6 Snow Leopard – Apple apologizes for Leopard.

2) 10.4 Tiger – An OS X that's stable, efficient, and stays out of the way. Still usable as an everyday system after nine years, and in the internet era that's a major feat.

1) System 6 – The apex of speed and usability. Its boot times beat any modern system, and the user interface is the very definition of intuitive. System 6 is largely responsible for making your compact Mac feel like an old friend.

Happy Mac


  1. I came late in the game with Leopard.

  2. It's true... Leopard is more bloated, but only if you don't have a core image capable GPU. The CPU will be forced by Leopard to emulate a GPU that does work with core image. This slows the CPU down approx. 20-40%, depending on what you're doing.

    With a CI capable GPU most get better performance with Leopard, and I'm one of them. In Leopard a CI capable GPU is literally like another CPU.

    In my years on Leopard, I have honestly ran Tiger only a few times for as long as a month, and was left with less overall performance. Seriously people... Leopard performs better than Tiger on my 1.8GHz G4 Sawtooth w/Geforce 6200 256MB, which of course supports core image.

    Leopard is far from perfect, but Tiger is simply far too dated in every way for me.

    The software selection for Tiger also leaves a lot to be desired. It's bad enough on leopard already, but downgrading to Tiger would make it even worse.

    As for internet use, I don't use Mac OS PowerPC for that, other than maybe visiting here.

    For those that don't know... you need a Radeon 9600+ (or the rare 9550 mobile) on the ATI/AMD side, and a Geforce 5200+ with Nvidia GPU.

    The main difference between Leopard and Tiger, is that Tiger doesn't force CI on your CPU if you don't have one that works with it. So on a system with a Radeon 7000-9000 or Geforce 2,3,4 Tiger will seem noticeably faster.

    On Leopard the CPU turns a CI capable GPU into its bitch, and makes it do a lot of what the CPU would be handling on Tiger. So while it's bad that Leo forces CI on a system without a capable GPU, the CI tech is advanced a great deal more to give it a clear advantage when you do have CI hardware support.

    1. True, all that. I just think Leo's newer features that used more resources, not only the GPU but memory, can mostly be added by third party tools if I want. Tiger's more basic, but that's what I like. Also, Classic is such a great emulator, it's hard to walk away from.

    2. Actually... there is a way to turn off the forced Core Image mode on Leopard, and that is to have no GPU at all installed.

      We both have very legitimate reasons for settling on the OS we each have. I agree about the quality of classic. For pretty much everything but gaming it's a lot better than booting a classic OS separately.

      Your reasons for running Tiger as your main Mac OS are 100% legit, I get it. I just wanted to make a clearer case for Leopard.

      I respect Tiger a great deal, and would list it as my #2 also, but other than maybe gaming I would have no more use for it now. I do all my gaming in Leopard though, and games from the Jaguar era on actually run more stable on Leo.

      In terms of classic OS, 8.6 and 7.6.1 would be my best memories. 7.6.1 was the most stable before 8.6. Add to that how solid 10.6 was, and there is a trend of Apple getting things right at x.6 versions. So maybe Mac OS will suck until 11.6 now :)

    3. I bought my powerbook to run old classic games. What reminds me time when i emulate mac on my Amiga to play warcraft 2 and duke nukem. For me Tiger with classic mode is more than enough.

  3. I forgot to clarify something about System 7.6. It's true that it was unstable, but the 7.6.1 update fixed everything, at least for me and many others.

    In the 7.6.1 to OS 8 days, a lot of mac techs, myself included, really had a lot of faith in it. Even to the point of recommending 7.6.1 over 8 to customers until 8.1 fixed things.

    8.6 is without a doubt the classic OS champion of stability. I tried 9.2.2 (the most stable 9 for most) for a couple weeks once back then, and went running back to 8.6.

  4. Nice survey. I agree, Tiger is wonderful, still use it on my iBook G4 1.33 1,5GB (I am writing this comment on this laptop now). Only thing missing in Tiger is the Time Machine and there are little alternatives left on powerpc.
    Indeed, Tiger feels much snappier than Leopard. Startup time in half a minute, Leopard is slower on that one. As for the eyecandy in Leopard: the 3D feels older now since Apple has gone back to 2D since Yosemite. Tiger looks more modern again :-) On first glance people might think you are running El Capitan...

  5. I don't see how 10.1-10.3, 10.7, and 10.8 are better than 10.9... with only 2GB in a MacBook Air, 10.9 performs much better with its memory compression ability. Any Mac that can run 10.8 can also run 10.9. And any Mac that can't, but can run 10.7 should just run 10.6. And for the 10.1-10.3 versions... even a TI-82 has more apps available...

  6. I'd rank 10.6 as my favourite. I ACTUALLY PAID for it (about £20) - I'm not sure what OS my MacBook Pro was on, but 10.6 actually offered me more speed and some features that I'd actually use. Tragically, the MacBook Air I'm currently using is now on 10.9.5 - I had to downgrade to the newer OS to run some Adobe apps, I think. It's shit and slow. But probably marginally less shit and slow than the newer OSes, which offer absolutely no useful features whatsoever.

    I've been using Macs since System 6, and the first Mac I owned had System 7, which seemed like a major leap forward from System 6.

  7. I think you've forgotten just how slow Mac OS used to be. You can go to Youtube and watch boot videos. System 6 takes close to a minute. A modern Mac boots in 10 or 15 seconds.