- Apple’s latest Macintosh operating system, macOS Big Sur, can be downloaded and installed on your Mac immediately.
- macOS Big Sur is such a significant change from Catalina that Apple increased the version number from 10 to 11, which hasn’t happened in 20 years.
- As this is a new operating system, cautious users may wish to postpone installing the first major version until the next minor update.
- Due to the macOS Big Sur release, increased data center traffic resulted in outages and slow performance with multiple Apple services.
macOS Big Sur Ready to Install
macOS Big Sur (v. 11.0) is currently available to the public. Apple’s newest Macintosh operating system is the first supporting the M1 chip. The Mac’s future depends largely on Apple silicon, as the company gradually tapers off its dependency on Intel processors.
Data center problems tarnished what would have been a stellar release for Big Sur. Demand for the new operating system stressed data center operations beyond capacity, resulting in failures and slowdowns across the Apple ecosystem. Some users were unable to install Big Sur. As the impact rippled across the Apple ecosystem, virtually every customer experienced slowdowns due to increased activity.
macOS 11.0 Big Sur System Requirements
Unlike its predecessor, macOS Big Sur ends support for Macs manufactured as late as 2013. If you have an iMac that’s over six years old, you won’t be able to upgrade it. Given that Apple sells older Mac models as new, years after launch, some may have a four-year-old Mac that’s ineligible for the Big Sur update.
The strict cutoff for devices, some debuting only six years ago, may be due to increased changes in Big Sur. The last few macOS releases offered small, incremental changes. With support for Apple silicon and technology enabling iOS apps to run on a Mac, perhaps these older machines simply don’t have the power to run Big Sur.
If one purchased a brand new 2013 iMac in 2014 or 2015, not being able to upgrade to Big Sur is a slap in the face. Although some may buy new Macs, others will opt to stick with macOS Catalina. As smartphones and tablets become more advanced, consumers with more casual technology needs may opt-out of computers entirely.
The following Macs can install the Big Sur update:
- Mac Pro (2013 or later)
- iMac Pro (all models)
- iMac (mid 2014 or later)
- Mac Mini (late 2014 or later)
- MacBook Pro (late 2013 or later)
- MacBook Air (mid 2013 or later)
- MacBook (early 2015 or later)
The preceding information is also useful to determine which Mac models reach obsolescence fastest. The base model MacBook seems to have the shortest lifespan of any Macintosh. Although it’s a relatively new device, with its mobile processor and limited specs, it’s likely to be denied the next macOS release. Most iPhones receive updates longer than the base MacBook model.
For those who want an obsolescence-defying Mac, the “Pro” models seem to last a little longer. Make sure to purchase a new model, as Apple is known to sell older ones for years, even though new Macs are available.
Why You Might Want to Wait to Install macOS Big Sur
macOS Big Sur is a giant leap forward for Apple and Mac users. This is the first release supporting Apple silicon — the bold new M1 chip with blazing fast single-core speeds. With all of these changes, there’s more opportunity for defects.
Beyond first-release defects, Apple’s data center is getting hammered right now, as early adopters rush to install the latest operating system. Those who opt for Big Sur now have to wait for long downloads, as server capacity stretches thin.
Unless you need macOS Big Sur for work, it’s best to wait for the next release before installing it. By then, demand for the operating system will have waned. As Apple remediates outstanding defects, the next version of Big Sur should be more stable.