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macOS and Lucky 13

Are version numbers for software supposed to be lucky, or just reflections of the number of different releases of a product? When Apple released Mac OS X in 2001 — it later became OS X for no discernible reason — I wondered whether there would ever be a Mac OS XI. Not even close, but to bring OS branding into alignment, last year it was renamed macOS.

Now some think that macOS is taking on just too many aspects of iOS, but that’s not entirely true. It’s more about bringing some apps into alignment, to talk to one another. Thus it makes it easier for Macs and other Apple gear to work together.

Now if they’d only find a way to refresh Macs more often.

In any case, it’s clear that development of Sierra’s successor is underway. Since it’ll debut at the next WWDC, in June, perhaps the feature set is mostly fleshed out by now, along with any interface changes. I say mostly, because things might change between now and the release date.

In any case, the speculation about the possible new features should get underway soon. So someone evidently discovered a link on Apple’s site that mentions a macOS 10.13. Thus begins a new set of rumors that appear to have some basis for them. In other words, this will be the next release, but that was the assumption.

Wonder what the marketing or code name will be.

Now when it comes to simple logic, the successor to 10.12 should be 10.13, but when does version 11 debut? After macOS 10.19? Or will it always have the “X” branding, at least for the next couple of decades?

Or does it even matter?

Now those who are a tad superstitious might feel that anything with a number 13 in it must cause bad luck. Thus Apple might go to 10.14 instead, but buildings do have thirteenth floors. I also wouldn’t subscribe to the possibility that a macOS 10.13 would necessarily be a flawed release. Apple has already done some of those without an unlucky version number.

In the general scheme of things, however, it probably doesn’t matter except for possibly having a humorous aspect. But even as Apple continues the version 10 technology, Microsoft is trying to do the same with Windows 10. Indeed Windows 10 will supposedly stick for a while, as Microsoft issues ongoing updates with obscure versioning. There won’t be a 10.1 or a 10.2. The current release branch is 1607, with the OS build number 14393.693. Oh, it all falls so smoothly from the tongue.

Oh, and as I was writing this column, I got a Windows 10 Insider Preview email from Microsoft listing a handful of new features, most of which I don’t care about.

The real question, however, is what Apple might offer with the presumed 10.13 release. Will it have a handful of goodies derived from iOS? Aside from the possible version number, the speculation is about the name and not much else. So maybe there aren’t enough builds in the wild to get a decent concept of what Apple’s looking for?

I would assume Apple will move the next macOS over to the new Apple File System (APFS) by default. APFS has already been rolled out for those of you who have downloaded the iOS 10.3 betas. By the way, it works just fine, and even boots a lot faster.

Aside from the new file system, at what point does Apple run out of compelling features to offer Mac users before trying to regurgitate stuff from its mobile system? Or maybe Apple could take a long look at what was offered back in the Classic Mac OS days, and see if there’s anything leftover that could be modified and brought over. Strangely enough, some long-time Mac users still lament over such things, but I don’t recall anything of significance anymore. The macOS of 2016 does a whole lot more and it’s a lot more stable.

I remember in the old days how my Mac would crash several times a day, even when it was apparently working properly. I saved documents constantly, but the quits and crashes seemed to almost always happen when a deadline loomed. Suddenly I was forced to restart the Mac, hope no files were hosed, and get back to business.

For a few weeks, I actually set up one of those utilities that allowed you to massively customize the look and function of key Mac OS features. I even got to know a developer or two who created such utilities. Nice people but their apps were almost always broken beyond belief. If I had a certain number of system crashes, the presence of such an add-on would invariably make things a whole lot worse.

I remember when I bought an early Power Macintosh with System 7.5.2, and it was a total nightmare. There was no way to keep it working long enough to prepare a decent-sized document. In those days Apple would not only release a maintenance update, but supplement it with a sub-version, such as a Update 2.0. It got pretty hairy in the days before Steve Jobs came back to Apple.

These days, I cannot recall when an app or the OS crashed on my Mac. I do act dangerously and grab the latest betas from Apple’s site. Sometimes a feature or two is broken, but since I always have a full clone backup in the ready when I run such an update, I can always restore my Mac to its pristine form if the need arises.

So yes, I do live dangerously, but always with a recent backup.

In any case, I am anxious to see what macOS 10.13 — if that’s what it’s going to be — will contain. The official word will come in just three months.