High (Sierra) times

Why supporting beta OSs is a bad idea

For the first time ever, we had to limit Hedge not just to old operating systems, but also to a newer one: the public beta of High Sierra.

We were getting a lot of emails from users that updated their systems to a beta version of 10.13, only to find their favorite apps broken.

Annoying? Very. Predictable? That too.

Adoption

Since Apple has gone public with new OS betas, adoption hasn’t been as high as with this year’s release. Many Mac and iOS users make the jump to whatever Apple pushes their way, as soon as they can.

That’s fine (and fun!) from a consumer perspective — I personally install every WatchOS beta as soon as possible — but not so for professionals. Beta OSs are not reliable. If they were, they wouldn’t be in beta.

Too make matters even more delicate, this year’s OS comes with a new file system, replacing the 30-year-old HFS+. That wasn’t what worried us though: AFPS seems to be rock solid from the start.

What did concern us, was that the beta quality was all over the place. The first (non-public) beta was pretty good, but the ones after that were giving us major headaches. Drives didn’t have icons, or suddenly didn’t exist at all. This was not just because of things Apple had to fix, but also from external libraries. It just takes time for all parties to test and update their code. That’s why it’s a four-month process.

Blocker

So, we had to build in a blocker for High Sierra, and wait for the GM to start development of HS support. Not much use in putting in effort when a next beta might just break all that work again, right?

Some users even demanded a refund because of the blocker, since we made it impossible for them to do their jobs after installing the HS beta. That’s the world upside down if you ask me.

You don’t want to run beta software on a beta OS with a file system that’s also in beta when your core business is doing file transfers.

It’s time for an official policy:

  • When Apple or Microsoft releases a beta OS, we’ll release an unaltered beta, without the blocker.
  • It won’t be possible to run the stable release of Hedge on beta OSs.
  • We start working on the new OS when the GM is released, not before.
  • If something needs widespread testing, we’ll release another beta.
  • We release an official update on the day of the OS release — like we did today ✨

I hope this clarifies our thought process, and make you think twice about running beta OSs. If you really want to, do it at the GM stage and not before. Or use a VM or second Mac. But don’t alter your primary system. Strange things will happen.

See you next year; I’m putting my money on “Sequoia” for 10.14 🙃

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