Why Your OS Name Matters

Apple has, to my knowledge, never exclusively used a non-numeric name for their operating systems since OS X. Yes, they refer to 10.8 as “Mountain Lion”, but they also fall back on the “10.8″ monicker when needed. I’m reminded of just how important this fact is by the exploit found on Android devices and it occurs to me that it would be very hard for Google to say either of these two statements:

  1. Devices running 4.X and newer are secure.
  2. Devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and newer are secure.

It’s difficult because Google has decided that the non-numeric name is a better way to sell the OS to consumers. So statement #1 doesn’t work because no Android user is likely to know what version number they are running, or what version number corresponds with each name. Which is why #2 won’t work either, because even I don’t know the order of the names (yes they are alphabetic, but it took me writing that sentence to remember that detail and do you think general users will know this).

So if the same thing occurred on iOS, Apple could say: only affects devices running iOS 5.1 and older. Likewise on Mac OS X, Apple can say: only affects Macs running 10.7.4 and older. As users we know how to count, thus we know how to tell what we have. With Android it’s a much harder sell to tell a general consumer which OSes are exploited and thus you get sites like this.

There’s much larger issues at bay with Android, like fragmentation and slow updates, but the naming issue will always come into play when a security breach occurs — like right now.

Originally posted for members on: September 26, 2012
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