All Apple's software is beta, and that's OK

OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, iWork, Final Cut: These days it's rare Apple ships software that everybody is happy with from day one. There are always those who complain about:

All Apple's software is beta, and that's OK

[ABOVE: Online distribution systems such as the Mac App Store mean users should demand steady improvements to any software purchase -- and developers need to deliver them.]

  • Missing features
  • Altered interfaces
  • Technical flaws

If you think about it, of course, that's perfectly normal: the history of software is littered with stories of application and operating system flaws on release. What's changed is how Apple deals with these problems -- and this reflects a change in the way software is distributed.

Burn the box

You see, once upon a time software was distributed on optical drives tucked away inside retail packs. This just isn't the case any more as software distribution is now online: everybody's doing it, even Adobe. Apple's no different. Technology firms know they can ship software online and follow the release with updates to introduce features, improve security, patch flaws.

Technology consumers are a little behind the curve -- we love the convenience of online distribution via the App Stores. We enjoy the move towards making operating systems free because the price of future upgrades is included in the hardware cost. That's all good.

However, today's tech consumers also need to transform their expectation of what they get -- it isn't about finished products these days, it's about products that are good enough to use today with promises of future updates to make them even better. Tech firms can see it this way because they know they can distribute their software online -- it's not as if you purchase the software pack and then need to download multiple upgrades. Whenever you do choose to download new software the version you will get will be the most current version available.

Fresh expectations

The customer gets convenience, software developers (like Apple) gain flexibility.

To make the most of such flexibility, software developers are moving to improve their basic products. At Apple, this must be part of what its years of work finessing the code inside OS X must have been about: to deliver a slim line operating system that carries little if any legacy code that provides a strong skeleton on which future implementations can hang.

If we accept that future software is going to be a work in progress, then we have a right to expect a steady flow of regular software updates designed to add features we want, improve security and stability and generally improve the products we choose.

There's evidence Apple is doing this:

So what am I saying? I believe Apple is focused on delivering steady improvements across its software products. It is listening to customers and iby its actions proves it will address their concerns. You no longer need to wait forever for a patch because of this commitment to improving your software.

If Apple's software can be considered beta -- a work in progress -- then customers are more likely then ever before to get good software that's frequently improved. The only criticism I see ahead is the emerging role of software providers as some kind of benevolent dictator

Also read:

Google+? If you're one of those who likes to use social media and also happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon