The old saying that goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly doesn’t apply to computer software. Too often, it appears that someone changed something original in a program for the sake of change, not because it wasn’t working, and they invariably made it worse. I know I’ve bitched before about what I consider to be the darkness of Panther’s interface and how much I dislike it, but I’m going to mention it again because it feeds into the changes Apple continues to make to its operating system, changes I’m questioning as necessary.
Really, about the only thing Panther has going for it is Expose and the fact that Apple has locked some application functionality, like the new iChat AV Beta and the Safari upgrade, into it. (It’s sad when Apple has to take a Microsoft course and try to push upgrades on people with such tactics, but that is what appears to be happening.) While there are some other smaller things also going for it, I don’t use any of them enough to make them assets to me. Between Panther’s darkness (greyness?), its inconsistent and sometimes slower performance across my home network, and the fact that one of my prime OS X applications won’t run on it, I’m sometimes regretting the upgrade. My only salvation has been the fact that I can boot my PowerMac from either of its hard disks, so I am running both Jaguar and Panther on the machine. As pressed as I am for time right now, I am honestly thinking about doing some slight reconfiguration of the machine to support booting into Jaguar as my prime operating system. I have already decided that I will not move completely off Jaguar, though that had been my original intent.
I find myself in the same situation I am in on my Windows machine. I am holding onto Windows98SE because my PaperPort scanner works reliably under it and doesn’t under Windows XP. While I like XP’s functionality more, Win98 is easier to troubleshoot and keep running. I won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon.
The mentality of the computer companies is that the newer product is always better and therefore whatever losses you incur in moving up is worth it. That ain’t always so. It ain’t always the truth. Yes, they must keep moving ahead to make a profit and keep growing, but they don’t have to do it at my expense. Apple’s now infamous yearly $129 OS updates are getting old; the thing that has made them palatable are the family pack deals where you can upgrade multiple machines, usually five, on one license for only about twice the cost. But, as I’ve already said in this blog, I’ll be looking a lot more critically at any OS releases next year from Apple before I spend any money. There will have to be a dammed good reason beyond fixing Panther’s bugs before I’ll go there.
Of course, sometimes newer is better. After looking at the newest version of Photoshop, I have convinced myself to upgrade. I love the new Photomerge and its file manager and they plus the new filters and color matching filters make it worth the expense. That would not be true if activation software was also present; but it is not on the Mac versions, so I feel okay about taking the plunge. I will also look at upgrading my other Adobe software (Illustrator, Go Live, and InDesign) on the Mac side; my Windows versions will stay where they are since I so rarely use them and I’m not willing to further support activation schemes in software.