OS updates are big and exciting events these days (we look forward to them too!). Unlike years gone by, where you'd be sporting the same OS for 3-5 years, software manufacturers have become increasingly agile (and competitive), resulting in a flurry of annual releases.
This year alone we've seen Windows 10 Anniversary Update, macOS Sierra, iOS 10 and Android Nougat. I'm not going to lie, I installed every one of these on the day they came out on my personally-owned devices and with some of them, I went as far as to install the preview builds; because with my personally-owned technology, if I can't print my train ticket, edit my photos or watch Netflix then it's not a big issue; I can wait until a fix is released as none of these activities are mission-critical.
But when it comes to university-owned devices it's a different story. We're an organisation that aims to provide security and stability. This extends into each and everyone's software and hardware requirements and a small, innocuous update can cause havoc; resulting in devices being unable to interact or connect to essential university services and leaving you unable to work effectively.
An example of this is our Managed Print Service. The recent macOS Sierra update was incompatible with the drivers needed for print and it took a couple of weeks following release until updated drivers were available. During this time, Macs running macOS Sierra were unable to install the drivers required to print at the University. Another issue we recently saw was with MATLAB. Mathworks made us aware of an issue which caused the corruption of documents which made use of a foreign character set.
Now you might not make heavy-use of the Managed Print Service or use MATLAB and be thinking "why can't I update?". These are only the issues we're currently aware of. There are bound to be many more issues lurking, more incompatibilities to be found. Indeed, every week, on my home computer, I'm still getting updates to software that "improves compatibility with macOS Sierra".
We think it's great that people want to be early adopters and we want to embrace that desire for the latest version but we also want our colleagues to be able to work effectively. For that reason, university-owned Macs may currently not be upgraded to macOS Sierra.
We're not quite there yet but we will soon be accepting sign-ups from Mac users into our Previewers group, giving you the opportunity to download and install new versions of macOS and other software, prior to them being made available for general release. Please get in touch if you would like to sign up.