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. 


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