Is Apple Planning to Rename OS X?

First it was Mac OS (referred to as System 1, System 7, etc.), then Mac OS X, then OS X. But a comment from Apple’s earnings call this week suggests that a name change may be in the works.

As Jason Snell points out in an article on Six Colors:

But there was another little slip that was very interesting to me. It probably means nothing, but when Maestri listed off Apple’s four major product platforms, he said this: “We’ve built a huge installed base around four platforms: iOS, Mac OS, watchOS, and tvOS.”

Officially, that second platform is still “OS X.” But calling it Mac OS instead sure fits better, doesn’t it?

Jason had already suggested this name change last year, but the fact that Maestri said “Mac OS” suggests that it’s in the works. (And did he say Mac OS, MacOS, or macOS?)

When you think about it, OS X (Oh Ess Ten) gets a bit hanky when you get to version 10.10 and 10.11, where we are now (Oh Ess Ten ten point eleven), and I think it should have been changed once the odometer flipped to double digits. But since everything else is nameOS, it makes sense to go back to MacOS (in one word). Also, with iOS 10 coming up, things will get really confusing compared to OS X 10.12 (or whatever).

Os x

Apple long used the X as a branding tool, using fancy design and treating it as a logo, but that was in the days of software in boxes and on CDs or DVDs. Now, the X is subtle, and the branding is all in the background images displayed in the Mac App Store.

Perhaps the next version of Apple’s desktop operating system will be macOS Redwood…

14 thoughts on “Is Apple Planning to Rename OS X?

  1. Most folks see them as decimals in software version numbers, but in fact they are periods, so they act as separators. You and I understand Major.Minor.Revision numbering schemes, but the average user does not. Perhaps they should’ve used hyphens, instead?

    • I don’t think they were ever intended to be user-facing information. Alas, that changed when versions became a selling point or system requirement. It does just confuse things for average users.

  2. Most folks see them as decimals in software version numbers, but in fact they are periods, so they act as separators. You and I understand Major.Minor.Revision numbering schemes, but the average user does not. Perhaps they should’ve used hyphens, instead?

    • I don’t think they were ever intended to be user-facing information. Alas, that changed when versions became a selling point or system requirement. It does just confuse things for average users.

  3. With free and (mostly) stable updates, it seems version branding has become less important. In the days of expensive and buggy releases I was always aware of my Mac’s os version. Now, for better or worse, App Store says update now, and I hit the button without much thought. I know that makes the hardcore users cringe (and me now that I think about it), but that is probably SOP for Apple’s target consumer. I would like to see a survey of OSX and iOS users re: awareness of OS versions.

  4. With free and (mostly) stable updates, it seems version branding has become less important. In the days of expensive and buggy releases I was always aware of my Mac’s os version. Now, for better or worse, App Store says update now, and I hit the button without much thought. I know that makes the hardcore users cringe (and me now that I think about it), but that is probably SOP for Apple’s target consumer. I would like to see a survey of OSX and iOS users re: awareness of OS versions.

  5. Kirk, Mac OS is the name of the old, pre-OS X operating system. It was archaic by today’s standards, and did not have the high level of security that is built into OS X. It is extremely unlikely that Apple would go back to using “Mac OS” that again.

    But Maestri using the name Mac OS could just be a slip, as Jason Snell said.

    If Apple ever does rename OS X (which I agree has always been a mouthful) it would make more sense to call all of the company’s operating systems “Apple OS”. It would be clear and to the point. And since all of the operating systems are really based on the underpinnings of OS X, they are really variants of the same operating system.

    Using “Apple OS” as the name, each variant could be defined this way:

    Apple OS Desktop
    Apple OS Mobile
    Apple OS TV
    Apple OS Watch

  6. Kirk, Mac OS is the name of the old, pre-OS X operating system. It was archaic by today’s standards, and did not have the high level of security that is built into OS X. It is extremely unlikely that Apple would go back to using “Mac OS” that again.

    But Maestri using the name Mac OS could just be a slip, as Jason Snell said.

    If Apple ever does rename OS X (which I agree has always been a mouthful) it would make more sense to call all of the company’s operating systems “Apple OS”. It would be clear and to the point. And since all of the operating systems are really based on the underpinnings of OS X, they are really variants of the same operating system.

    Using “Apple OS” as the name, each variant could be defined this way:

    Apple OS Desktop
    Apple OS Mobile
    Apple OS TV
    Apple OS Watch

  7. Personally, I think it makes perfect sense to rename OS X as macOS. It’s just a name, and the current version numbering system is rather awkward. Assuming that Apple sticks with an annual update cycle, I would also like to see OS X development follow a tick-tock strategy much like Intel uses. The first year would present major updates. The following year would make minor updates and bug fixes. And the cycle repeats. I’ve grown jaded with the myriad of silly bugs introduced into OS X, some of which have not been fixed for years, and no longer update OS X right away. Rather, I wait until the final update of a major point release (i.e. Mavericks to Yosemite) before updating my OS. I stay a year behind but have fewer issues to deal with, yet can still run pretty much all current software. Also, a tick-tock cycle would give Apple pause to consider how UI changes are beneficial, if at all. For example, Apple should take a look at the original Human Interface Guidelines and understand how OS X is diverging from principles that made the Mac uniquely so easy to use. It’s only been in recent times that I’ve had to rely on guides or Google to do some of the most basic functions. That’s not progress, IMHO; and such divergence will undermine the utility of the Mac if it strays too far.

  8. Personally, I think it makes perfect sense to rename OS X as macOS. It’s just a name, and the current version numbering system is rather awkward. Assuming that Apple sticks with an annual update cycle, I would also like to see OS X development follow a tick-tock strategy much like Intel uses. The first year would present major updates. The following year would make minor updates and bug fixes. And the cycle repeats. I’ve grown jaded with the myriad of silly bugs introduced into OS X, some of which have not been fixed for years, and no longer update OS X right away. Rather, I wait until the final update of a major point release (i.e. Mavericks to Yosemite) before updating my OS. I stay a year behind but have fewer issues to deal with, yet can still run pretty much all current software. Also, a tick-tock cycle would give Apple pause to consider how UI changes are beneficial, if at all. For example, Apple should take a look at the original Human Interface Guidelines and understand how OS X is diverging from principles that made the Mac uniquely so easy to use. It’s only been in recent times that I’ve had to rely on guides or Google to do some of the most basic functions. That’s not progress, IMHO; and such divergence will undermine the utility of the Mac if it strays too far.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.