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Apple Discontinues macOS Server

macOS Server Icon

Today, Apple has quietly discontinued macOS Server. I cannot say that I am surprised by this. macOS Server has long been in maintenance mode where it only gets the bare minimum of updates. Furthermore, I think the final death knell for macOS Server is the fact that Apple recently introduced Apple Business Essentials, which effectively replacing the last remaining service in macOS Server, Profile Manager. Apple Business Essentials further aides Apple in its push to be more services oriented than a product-only company.

Ever since Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah was introduced in 2001 there has been some sort of server component. This initially started as a dedicated version of OS X Server, which was the base macOS with the additional server options. macOS Server was aimed at small and medium businesses as a way of being able to host their own website, calendar, mail, DNS, VPN, and FTP servers; among other services as well.

Pricing for macOS has changed over the years as well. Initially, it was $500 for a 5 simultaneous users or $999 or unlimited simultaneous users. The user limitation was only for file server, all other services were unlimited. With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server pricing changed to be $499 for unlimited users. This was not the final shift.

In 2011, with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion the entire server model changed. Instead of being a separate version, it now became an app that anybody could install from the Mac App Store. Along with being a change to be an app, the pricing changed. The price dropped by 90% to be $49.99. This put it squarely in the realm of power user affordability. The price again dropped the next year, to just $19.99, with the introduction of Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. This absolutely put it into even home user pricing. And with the App Store update mechanism, it was easy to keep up to date.

Over time though, Apple started removing services, in particular version 5.7.1 of macOS Server, which corresponded with macOS Mojave (10.14), was the one that cut the services down to just two, Xsan and Profile Manager. I suspect that when the decision to cut macOS Server down to just Profile Manager and Xsan, that the determination was made to create Apple Business Essentials and once it was introduced that macOS Server would be discontinued.

I cannot argue with the fact that macOS Server’s overall utility has been slowly diminishing. Some of macOS server’s features have been rolled directly into macOS itself. These include File Server, Caching Server, and Time Machine Server. Relegating macOS Server to strictly be Profile Manager has effectively made the app a single-purpose app. I cannot fault Apple for discontinuing macOS Server, the scant resources being used to maintain the server app can now be used to continue improving Apple Business Essentials.

Having always been a power user I will remember the early days of macOS Server fondly, but it no longer makes sense to include that into macOS, and instead allow third-parties, including Apple’s own Business Essentials service, to manage all of ones devices for them. There are many companies who sole focus is Mobile Device Management, and they are better suited for it.

Source: Apple Support