inessential by Brent Simmons

Email sent to a developer on supporting 10.6 and up

The below is an email I sent to a fellow Mac developer on reasons to support 10.6 and up on his next major release. (It’s barely edited: I just changed a couple sentences that would have made identification easy.)

Here are the reasons to go with 10.6 and up:

1. Millions of people are using 10.6. Every new Mac since last September or whatever is running 10.6. Apple is selling lots of Macs. Lots of people have upgraded to 10.6.

2. People who don’t upgrade their OS are, in general, the kind of people who just don’t buy software anyway. (Particularly in the case of 10.6, given how inexpensive the upgrade price was.)

3. Every second you spend dealing with 10.5 (in terms of testing, code, whatever) is a disservice to your customers and your software. It’s very nearly irresponsible.

4. Quality is the most important aspect of your software. Quality drives sales. Dropping 10.5 support means you can spend more time on polish; it means you can use 10.6-only features that make your app better and easier to maintain. Continuing with 10.5 support means that your software is not as good as it could be.

5. Rule of thumb: don’t ever code for a shrinking OS version.

Wayne Gretzky: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."

There will be n 10.5 users on the day the next version of your app is released. The next day there will be n minus some number. A month later it will be n minus some big number — but you’ll still be supporting 10.5, you’ll still be writing software for people who don’t buy software anyway.

There are x 10.6 users today. Tomorrow there will be x plus some number. A month from now it will be x plus some big number.

6. Current users of your app still on 10.5 have a perfectly awesome piece of software to use.

7. If you don’t drop 10.5 now, when do you drop it? On a major release is when it’s easiest, and you don’t want to wait for the major release after this next one.