Apple Archive

It's the Bugs That Bug Me

- 2000.08.04

  • 1986: Macintosh Plus. No updates required, runs systems up to 7.5.5.
  • 1998: iMac. Requires "iMac Firmware update 1.0" (required to run OSes beyond 8.5), and "iMac CD Update." Runs systems Mac OS 8.1 (shipped w/ first version) to 9.0.4, expected to run OS X.
  • 1991: Macintosh PowerBook 140. No updates required, runs systems from 7.0.1 to 7.6.1.
  • 1999: iBook. Needs "Sleep memory extension" if OS 9.0 or earlier, iBook Firmware update, OS 9.0.4 update, runs systems from 8.6 (early versions; later versions shipped w/ 9.0) to Mac OS 9.0.4, expected to run OS X.
  • 1993: Macintosh LC III. No updates required, runs System 7.1 (enabler 003) to 7.6.1.
  • 1995: Power Macintosh/Performa 6200 series. Requires hardware upgrade to fix crashing, and for Mac OS 8.5 compatability - must run 52/62XX Compatibility tester, runs System 7.5.1 to 9.0.4.

This is just a small sampling of what Apple has been doing for the past 5 years or more. If I went out and picked up a Macintosh IIsi, new in 1990 (just say if, I couldn't have even come close to affording it, let alone know how to use it. I was 4.), I would not have expected any hardware updates at all. I might update the system software, to add features and to remove problems, but I wouldn't expect any model specific updates or machine specific hardware problems. If I went out now and bought one of those cool new G4 cubes, I am sure there would be several updates available for it within 6 months.

I am not saying "model specific software updates" are bad. After all, they update the computer to make it work better. The problem is that the computer is not ready to work from the start. I shouldn't have to buy an iMac, decide I want to upgrade the OS, and be faced with, "You must update your firmware to version X.X before you can proceed." I shouldn't have to load some software, restart, go into open firmware, and push paper clips into the side of the computer!

I should get "Your installation was successful," and not have to update firmware or install extensions.

Computers that need such updates are being purchased by people who are just learning the computer, as well as by people who know what their doing. The average new computer user who wants to update the computer, doesn't know how to download and apply "iMac Firmware 1.0"(iMac) or "sleep memory extension"(iBook/PowerBook Pismo).

Your computer is obviously not going to drop the "630 SCSI Update" (LC 630) into its own System Folder and restart, or download and install the "Colour Classic Update" (Colour Classic). You shouldn't have to do that either.

People who have to update their iBook should not have to hold the power button down for X seconds and wait for a "long tone." People who have to update their G3 should not have to worry about which CD update works with which machine. People should not have to update their computer; the computer should come with everything it needs to work properly.

Perhaps all of the hardware and software updates required are just "side effects" of the low prices that we take for granted these days ($10,000 for a Macintosh IIfx in 1990, $1,600 for a Power Macintosh G4 in 2000).

When they design computers now, they seem to skip right over the problem where your hard disk can crash if you have "save memory contents on sleep" enabled (iBook/PB Pismo), not even think of looking over at where the monitor starts going red, blue, or yellow (MultiScan 15), not bother to try to update the iMac to see if it will accept it (iMac/Firmware update), and try to pass off "gluing it" as an acceptable repair for the broken PowerBook screen cables (PowerBook G3 WallStreet 13.3" screen).

I guess testing these products less lets us pay less, but you do have to watch out. Although most people know about the "hot" 5300s, there were also some similar stories about the PowerBook G3 series where some actually did catch fire-or at least heat up quite a bit. See (http://www.pbzone.com/flaming.shtml) "Flaming PowerBooks" for more information. (And for all those whom that happened to, I hope Apple gave you a replacement.) I think these types of incidents stress the importance of testing each unit thouroughly for hardware problems.

This whole article about updates and bugs comes down to one point: Always test the product thoroughly. This means that the product should be working and not need machine specific updates or have machine specific problems. Having many software/firmware updates on one product makes me wonder, what "updates" could the hardware itself need that Apple isn't telling us about?

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