The last few days have seen the inter webs awash with a flurry of angst, as Apple users rush to download the new iOS8. It’s fascinating so many consumers, year after year, jump on the latest software updates, then proceed to spend the next day or more complaining about every little problem they encounter. This is such a contrast with the way professionals who depend on software for creative work approach the same problem.
Professionals Are Cautious About Software Updates
Visit online forums or check the Twitter feed of professional musicians or designers in the days and weeks after a new software patch or major version is released and you’ll see a similar question – is it safe? Professionals are loathe up upgrade, at least until there is verifiable proof the new software is not going to break their existing, reliable system.
Everyone has a horror story, of some small, innocuous upgrade that rendered an essential piece of software or hardware unusable. Mine came back during the OS10.4 years, when a minor update was released and for more than a month, my main Audio Interface was turned into an expensive paperweight. I couldn’t record or listen to music, lost money and vowed never to make the same mistake again.
The Freedom Of Outdated Systems
The first time I noticed this tendency amongst creatives, to be slow to upgrade, was visiting a graphic designer’s home studio in London. This was 2001 and my friend was working for some well known clients, but using software that was at least 3 years old, on a computer that was more than five years old. I asked her why she didn’t upgrade, half expecting the answer to be something about budgets, cost or accounting. But, her answer was simply that the computer and software worked, was reliable and go the job done.
It was clear that upgrading the software, simply because there was a newer version available, made about as much sense to her as upgrading the desk the computer sat on.
Computers As Tools And Machines
Professionals are slow to upgrade because they often see their computers as tools. It doesn’t necessarily matter if your tool lacks the latest bells and whistles, as long as it gets the job done. bear in the mind that the core of many guitarist’s sound is the electronics in their guitar and amplifier, which has it’s roots in Victorian era technology and has remained virtually unchanged since the 50s.
Today I’m running my music studio on 2008 Mac Pro, running OS10.8.5. There is no compelling reason to upgrade from that and assuming the computer doesn’t fail, I could easily be running the same configuration in five years time. I don’t see the computer as a needy, stand alone device that requires constant feeding with the latest updates and upgrades, but as a powerful machine at the heart of an integrated system. I don’t need that Mac to be current and new, I need it to be stable and reliable.
Yes, eventually Apple (or someone else) will release software that won’t run on this setup. But, when that day comes, I won’t have to upgrade to keep making the music I make.