Apple OS X Leopard Blue Screen of Death

An OS X BSOD, who would have thought it was possible? John Gruber outlines the issue on his blog. As a possible future Apple Fanboy (as defined by John of course) I find Apple's products appealing, and believe that they are more stable than Windows. But, let's not kid ourselves. Apple, and OS X, are not perfect. And as Apple's market share continue to grow, you are going to see more and more issues with people doing things with Apple devices that Apple did not intend. The number of bricked iPhones is another obvious example.

The problem is, people see computers (Windows, OS X, iPhones, etc) for what they are, multi-purpose devices. They figure out how they work and take advantage of undocumented features. This has been going on for years with Windows, and as regular readers of The Old New Thing blog know, Microsoft has made plenty of 'hacks' to their operating system to support applications that leveraged 'undocumented features'. This brings up the two different approaches that exist at Microsoft and Apple.

Microsoft: Support Everything
OK, not EVERYTHING, but Microsoft seems to spend a significant amount of time testing existing products and applications on their operating system. When they find issues, they are even willing to make changes to the OS to fix it, even if the application is 'wrong'. This makes live much easier for application developers and application users who may be using applications long abandoned by their authors.

Apple: Upgrade
Apple does not seem to be much of a fan of backwards compatibility. And they are certainly not very tolerant of you playing outside the box. They may not shut you down right way, but somewhere down the line your life will become very difficult.

Microsoft's approach is obviously more user friendly in the short term. I think a lot of Apple's reputation for reliability and ease of use comes from their walled garden/clean upgrade approach. I'm torn between the two. On one hand, I like the idea of clean system that does not make concessions to poorly written programs. However, being someone that is prone to writing his own poorly written programs, I appreciate the wiggle room Microsoft affords people. I'm a guy who won't buy an iPhone until I can deploy 3rd party applications, so while Apple is appealing, I'm not a 'switcher' yet.

The bottom line is, John is correct. The BSOD upgrade problem is not Apple's fault. Just like how many of the BSODs on Windows are not Microsoft's fault. Apple and Microsoft still get blamed whenever there are issues like this with their operating systems. It isn't necessarily fair, but your average user can't distinguish between an OS issue and a faulty driver.

Apple, welcome to real market share, and all the associated joys.

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