Don’t Install Point Zero Releases

| Columns & Opinions

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode # 187

Before I explain why you should never install the first release—the point zero releases—of any operating system, let me begin with a bit of background.

Last month Apple released public betas of its next generation operating systems — macOS Sierra and iOS 10 — and you may recall that I advised you not to install them on devices you actually expect to use. I explained that beta software always has expected issues such as bugs and crashes. But I also reminded you that beta OSes may render your favorite third-party application unusable; require a firmware or driver update for your hardware devices; or a feature you love could be removed completely or changed for the worse.

So while I established that it’s probably a bad idea to install a beta operating system on a Mac or iOS device you depend on, I have not yet mentioned exactly how long you should wait before you install a new OS after it’s released, which, in the case of iOS 10 and Sierra, should be fairly soon. How soon? Come on! Nobody knows and Apple only says they’ll be, “available this fall.” I expect them in September or October, so I recommend you read the rest of this column before you even consider clicking that oh so tempting Upgrade button.

Why Avoid Point Zero Releases?

In my experience, the first non-beta release, often called the “point-zero” release, often has bugs and crashes that weren’t caught in beta testing. That’s why I always advise friends and family to never install the first release of ANY operating system. I contend that it’s safer to wait for the inevitable “point-one” release (or even the point-two release to be even safer) before pulling the trigger.

We won’t know if macOS Sierra 10.12.0 or iOS 10.0 have significant bugs until they’re released, but past experience suggests that bugs are more likely than not. So, when your Mac or iDevice dangles that shiny new system software upgrade in front of you next month, might I suggest you just say no? Again, it’s much safer to wait, and if you don’t believe me, search the internet for “macOS Sierra issues” and “iOS 10 issues” a few days after their release.

Installing the point zero release of a new OS can make you crazy...

Installing the point zero release of a new OS can make you crazy…

One more thing you should do before you say “yes” to any OS upgrade is visit Roaring Apps ( This is a crowd-sourced application compatibility database that lets you determine if the apps you depend on will work properly with the new version of the OS.

The Bottom Line on Point Zero Releases

If you like to live dangerously, go ahead and install Sierra and iOS 10 the minute they come out. I will, but remember, I’m a trained professional. So, before you do something you might regret, I’d like to remind you one more time that it’s never as easy to downgrade as it was to upgrade and if you want to regress to a previous version after an upgrade you’ll have to erase the device, reinstall the previous version of the OS, and then restore your data from a backup. Not fun.

The bottom line is that when macOS Sierra 10.12.0 and iOS 10.0 finally arrive next month, wait for the first bug-fix update before you pull the trigger. My father used to tell me, “better safe than sorry,” and when it comes to point zero releases, I’m pretty sure he’s right. Just say “no.”

And that’s all he wrote…

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. mactoid

    As an unrepentant Mac geek, I have 3 different machines, and I almost always install the “point-zero” release on at least one of them the first day. If it dies…that’s part of the fun! However, any serious work can still get done on my “main” machine. 🙂

  2. Meh.
    The only point zero OS I regretted was iOS7 due to its serious battery fucking abilities. Still liked it enough to deal with it until the official release came out instead of downgrading.
    On iOS 10 now on both work and personal phones – it’s great.

  3. Scott B in DC

    @dtm1, why is that foolish? Anyone who’s been in this business more than a nanosecond knows that a point-uh-oh release is usually followed by a point-oh-one release in a week after the bugs are fixed. Apple isn’t the only company that has this problem. It’s pervasive throughout the industry.

    But if you have the bandwidth to deal with the problems and want to be adventurous, then do whatever you want. The rest of us will opt for stability in order to use these machines to earn our living!

  4. The point is that many users don’t know what they’re getting into with beta or point-zero releases.

    Scott B. In DC gets it:

    But if you have the bandwidth to deal with the problems and want to be adventurous, then do whatever you want. The rest of us will opt for stability in order to use these machines to earn our living!

    So, for those who know what they’re getting into and are aware of possible consequences, I say install all the betas and point zero releases you like.

    But I still think it’s excellent advice for users who don’t have the time or inclination to troubleshoot or nuke and pave their Mac when something goes awry.

  5. Bob:

    This is great advice, and a real community service to put this out well ahead of the next OS releases. It’s right up there with creating a bootable backup copy of your hard drive prior to upgrading and checking critical app compatibility, etc. This is especially true for one’s work machine or anyone dependent on a single machine.

    It is advice that I give to family, friends and colleagues. I admit, however, that although I make backups and check for critical app compatibility, I have always done the updates right away, not because I have a death wish (I always have a worst scenario back up plan) but because I want to know first hand what to anticipate when I finally do update my family’s other machines. Even then, due to extended time in the field with no tech support, I am sufficiently competent at trouble shooting, otherwise I would not go with a point zero installation. Besides, I just can’t wait to open the package and play with Apple’s new toy.

    In the past few cycles, mainly due to being in an Asian time zone at the time of OS releases, I’ve had the luxury of monitoring the internet chatter for red flags. TMO has been especially good at pushing these out early, and with sufficient clarity to make an informed decision. I just want to acknowledge that.

    Many thanks, and keep up the good work.

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