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Apple discontinues macOS Server after years of benign neglect

Apple discontinues macOS Server after years of benign neglect

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Apple announced today that it is formally discontinuing macOS Server after 23 years. The app, which offers device management services and a few other features to people using multiple Macs, iPhones, and iPads on the same network, can still be bought, downloaded, and used with macOS Monterey. It is also still currently available at its normal $20 retail price but will no longer be updated with new features or security fixes.

Server was never as widely used as the consumer versions of macOS, but macOS Server has a long history going all the way back to Apple’s late-’90s acquisition of NeXT and its NeXTSTEP software. NeXTSTEP was adapted into a project called “Rhapsody,” which added support for some longtime Apple software and a more Mac-like user interface and was initially released as Mac OS X Server 1.0 in March of 1999. This initial version of Mac OS X Server shared a lot of underpinnings with what would become Mac OS X but predated important user interface elements like the Dock and the Aqua theme, which would launch two years later in the first consumer version of Mac OS X.

Mac OS X Server remained its own totally separate version of the operating system, from the launch of that initial version through to Snow Leopard Server (version 10.6) in 2009. Starting in Mac OS X Lion, Apple began selling the Server software as a downloadable add-on app for any Mac, coinciding with the death of Apple’s last rack-mounted Xserve hardware. This transition also slashed the software’s price; a single Snow Leopard Server license cost $499, while the Server app cost just $50.

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