Mac OS X is finally done. Apple confirms that after almost 20 years of OS X (or MacOS 10), it will officially switch to MacOS 11 with the recently announced Big Sur update. This means that users will finally upgrade from version 10.X versions that Apple has been using for version 11.0 for almost two decades this fall.
Yes, macOS 11.
The original version of Mac OS X (which Apple renamed macOS to better align the iOS, watchOS, and tvOS software brands with the release of macOS Sierra in 2016) was released in September 2000 as a public beta for 29.99 US dollar released A successor to Mac OS 9, the last of the "classic" Apple operating systems, which went back to the original Macintosh in 1984. The release of Mac OS X was a dividing line between the original era of Apple computers and the birth of a new generation of devices.
Apple would spend the next decade refining and improving OS X, with updates being released much more sporadically than the versions that now annually define all of the company's software. The previous versions of OS X – known by their code names "Big Cat" like Jaguar, Lion, Leopard and Tiger – actually received upgrades that customers had to buy and no free downloads. OS X also spanned generations of Apple hardware, from the early PowerPC days of the iMac and MacBook to the Intel switch from 2005 to newer devices such as the ultra-thin MacBook Air or the astronomical Mac Pro.
As of 2011, Apple would switch to annual versions of OS X. In 2013, with the release of OS X Mavericks, the company would drop the cat names and turn OS X into free, annual updates.
The transition to macOS 11.0 is surprising for Apple, as Apple seemed at one point to be married to the idea of simply using OS X / macOS 10 as a brand name for its software for the foreseeable future. Microsoft had even started following the suite, and the company said in 2015 that Windows 10 was the “final version of Windows”.
When Apple switches to macOS 11, nobody can imagine what will happen next. Will there be a shift towards iOS-like version numbers next year with the release of macOS 12? Or have we started a new era of MacOS 11 updates, versions 11.1, 11.2, etc. of which will be released every fall for the next two decades?
The transition now marks a fitting end to OS X as Apple begins its latest reinvention of Intel-based chips to new ARM-based Apple Silicon products that will further blur the lines between its mobile iOS and iPadOS devices and laptops Desktop computer.
OS X defined the Mac for generations of hardware and software. It will be exciting to see what Apple has planned next.