I wish to register a complaint

On ATP 25, Casey Liss was shamed after asking whether the new Logic Pro X should be pronounced “Logic Pro Ex” or “Logic Pro Ten.” This came a few days after a similar incident on The Prompt when poor Myke Hurley was laughed at for saying “Logic Pro Ex.”1 And there was, I believe, an incident back in January on The Frequency when Haddie Cooke committed the unforgivable sin of saying “Oh Ess Ex” instead of “Oh Ess Ten.”

Personally, I think they should all be pronounced “Ex.” I know Apple says it should be “Ten,” and I know that both OS X and Logic Pro X came after their respective versions 9. But think about this:

  1. The last version of Final Cut Pro before X (which is also supposed to be pronounced “Ten”) was 7. What happened to 8 and 9?2 3
  2. It’s been over twelve years since the original release of OS X. Apple has treated each release from Cheetah to Mavericks as a new version. So why are we still on “Ten”?
  3. We write “OS X 10.8” but we say “Oh Ess Ten Point Eight.” Shouldn’t we be able to say what we write and write what we say?4

Most important, though, is that OS X is Unix and X has always played a big role in the Unix world. First, there’s the name “Unix” itself. It was initially written “Unics” as a pun on the abandoned “Multics” project, but when the spelling changed the X became a signifier for all things Unixy.

Variants of Unix usually included an X in their name: AIX, HP-UX, NeXTSTEP, IRIX, A/UX, MINIX, Linux, Xenix.5 The X/Open consortium wrote standards for Unix-like OSes. The standard windowing system for Unix systems is X Windows. These are all the letter X, not the Roman numeral.

There was, I’m sure, great delight at Apple when they realized that the first Unix-based version of their operating system was going to come after Mac OS 9. The 10/X correspondence was such a wonderful coincidence that it would’ve taken a superhuman effort not to take advantage of it in naming the new OS.

But we are, as I said, twelve years down the line now, and Apple has been giving point release version numbers to its full releases for too long. It’s time to stop playing X games. Apple should resolve its numbering problem with a deus X machina.

And when Apple gets tired of California place names, it should switch to birds. I’d love to run OS X Parrot.

 


  1. I can forgive Federico Viticci for saying that X must mean 10. He is, after all, Italian, which is as close to Roman as we have these days. ↩︎

  2. Please don’t tell me that seven ate nine. That’s beneath you. ↩︎

  3. Back in the late 80s, Microsoft decided that its new version of Word for the Mac was such a huge improvement that they went straight from version 1.5 to version 3.0, skipping the 2 series entirely. As you might have expected, Word 3.0 was as buggy as all get out. ↩︎

  4. I have seen people write things like “OS X.6,” but that’s nonstandard and looks stupid. ↩︎

  5. Leave it to Microsoft to go overboard and use two X’s. ↩︎