Apple’s quality control problems with Snow Leopard and Apple TV: what’s going on?

So, what’s going on with Apple?  Has the press finally emerged from the reality distortion field and started to report the problems with Apple software more than in the past or is it that there are that many more users who have not ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ yet?  No matter, the fact is that more and more problems are being reported about Apple products than I can ever remember reading about.  The majority of the problems come from updates as well.

Microsoft took it on the chin, so to speak, when Vista released to lack of driver support, application incompatibility and general displeasure with the changes made to Windows.  Now, it seems, much of that is happening with Snow Leopard.  There are tons of issues surrounding compatibility, hardware problems, lock ups and even loss of user data.  There were similar problems when Leopard released, but they were not highly publicized, at least, not like Vista.  That has changed.  A quick Google or Bing search for ‘Snow Leopard problems’ reveals a bevy of postings, more than any other version of the operating system.  Some of the problems have been addressed in updates, many have not.

And, speaking of updates, Apple updated the Apple TV software to 3.0 to handle some of the new features in iTunes and, in the process, broke Apple TV.  Among the issues are user content disappearing and dropped network connections.  Apple did something truly amazing-for them-over the weekend: they rushed out a patch to address the missing content issue.  However, they did not address any of the other problems users are having with the update.

The latest patch release of Mac OS X also affects the so called ‘hackintosh’ netbooks.  Apple, for what ever twisted reason, includes a kill switch for Atom based hardware.  Atom is the Intel CPU that powers most of the netbooks that are available today.  While no public reason has been given, speculation is that Apple wants to do all that it can to keep Mac OS X off of non-approved hardware.  Read that to mean all non-Apple hardware.  This is a truly hateful move on Apple’s part. Yes, it is their software and they can do what they want since they are not a monopoly.  Still, I fail to understand why they care so much.  The people who take the time to hammer Mac OS X into a netbook fully know what they are getting into and there is confusing Mac hardware with these barely usable devices.  I really do not get it.

So, I ask again, what’s going on with Apple?  Are they spread too thin?  I don’t know how many developers they employ, but I’ve read that it isn’t that many.  I’ve read it is as few as the number of developers who work just on Windows within Microsoft to the same number that Google employs.  Whatever it is, it is possible that they simply do not have adequate developers and QA people to fully test releases.  Apple really should take a page from Microsoft and release things like operating systems as public betas.  I suspect if Snow Leopard had had the same scrutiny as Windows 7, it would be a very different picture.  Of course, die hard Apple fans might not even bother with a public beta release since, you know, anything put out by the company would ‘just work’ anyway.

I certainly would hope that the shift that seems to be happening will continue.  It is about time that the tech press report Apple in the same manner they report other companies.  And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy about that these issues are affecting Apple’s users.  I don’t wish such things on anyone, especially on the Apple user base, many of whom have never had to really deal with such things.  At least, that is what I have been led to believe since the reporting has been pretty bad and any time I talk someone who uses an Apple product, all has been just fine.  I’ve met very few Apple users who have been up front about the products they use.  In fact, only one blogger/podcaster I know of has been pretty well balanced about the Mac and Apple in general.  Sam Caldwell, who puts out the excellent Windows 2 Apple podcast, tells it like it is, regardless of the machine he is talking about.  On second thought, if they were all like Sam, it would be one less thing for me to rant about…can’t have that now, can we?

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