back to article Apple's macOS Monterey upgrades some people's laptops to doorstops

Apple's latest desktop operating system, macOS Monterey, has downgraded some users' machines to the equivalent of a brick, according to multiple complaints posted to social media. Major operating system updates often cause problems for some indeterminate subset of users, which is why many technically inclined types recommend …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guess I'm Lucky

    That my late 2013 Mac Book Pro isn't eligible to upgrade to Monterey :-)

    1. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Guess I'm Lucky

      Mine actually runs it quite well.

      A little bit of patching the installer with opencore and my Macbook Pro 11,1 is running Monterey fine, actually feels a touch faster.....

      No T2 security chip though, which seems to be a good thing.

      1. Gordon 10

        Re: Guess I'm Lucky

        +1 on OpenCore. Just wasted an hour investigating whether I should upgrade my 27" iMac's AMD card and use OpenCore to get to the latest version of MacOS. Came to the conclusion that as I mainly use it for Target Display mode for my 2018 Macbook it would be not worth the effort and the loss of TDM.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guess I'm Lucky

      I have a 2019 MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini M1 all running 12.1 beta 8 now, and I have not had a problem with 12.0 either. I do back up before every update as one should (using CCC), but as yet I've had no reason to use a backup yet.

      I hope they find answers soon, irrespective of OS that just sucks.

    3. Solviva Bronze badge

      Re: Guess I'm Lucky

      Revived my mid-2012 macbook and updated to Catalina at the weekend. It's not offering further updates since this isn't supported by anything later. Oddly if I look in the App Store, it proudly displays Monterey, and under compatibility "Works on this Macbook Pro". Hmmm....

      I did update the Wifi Card a few years back to a later Macbook's version and apparently the wifi card was at least one of the sticking points for post-Catalina, so there's the remote possibility it does a more detailed HW check. Or is just lying.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    "macOS Monterey, has downgraded some users' machines to the equivalent of a brick"

    Given the price of Apple Screen Cleaners, a laptop sized Apple Brick would probably retail for about the price of a laptop. So no harm done.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "$99 and 24h later"

    So Apple made $99 from his upgrade problems?

    I see they have a real incentive to fix things and ensure trouble-free upgrades, then.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "$99 and 24h later"

      Yeah there's practically zero chance this happened as described though. Far more likely to be a question of:

      User installed update > Update bricked laptop > user punched laptop > Apple unbricked & installed for free, but charged $99 to repair punch damage.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "$99 and 24h later"

        "but charged $99 to repair punch damage"

        If you think that the fruity ones would only charge $99 to repair any punch damage, I have a bridge that you might be interested in buying...

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: "$99 and 24h later"

          $99 is an AppleCare+ service fee for physical damage to screen or external enclosure, including accidental damage.

          Is your Mac covered by AppleCare+?

          AppleCare+ gives you expert technical support and hardware coverage from Apple, including accidental damage protection. Each incident of accidental damage is subject to a service fee.

          If you don't have AppleCare+, you'll pay the out-of-warranty fee for that type of repair.

          Model: All Mac models

          Screen or external enclosure only (with AppleCare+) $ 99

          Other damage (with AppleCare+) $ 299

          (from https://support.apple.com/mac/repair/service)

          You're welcome.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: "$99 and 24h later"

            Anti-Apple zealots are out in force today, and in full on fact-denial mode as well. Dear oh dear.

            1. ThomH

              Re: "$99 and 24h later"

              I’m a paid-up member of the Apple ecosystem, but I strongly doubt there’s a blame-the-user angle here, whether physical or otherwise.

              I give it 99% odds that a bug in the software is to blame, whether the OS itself or one of the firmware updates that Apple bundled with the OS.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "$99 and 24h later"

                Yes, a bug in the software almost certainly bricked the machine, of that there is no real doubt.

                But an Apple Store would not charge a punter $99 to unbrick a machine bricked by Apple's own software update? Methinks something else was also up (without details: most likely the item mentioned further above) which warranted the charge separately from the unbricking?

                As ever, the devil is in the detail and there are too many missing here (details, not devils).

                A/C b/c obviously many Apple/Mac haters out and about here today.

                1. SImon Hobson

                  Re: "$99 and 24h later"

                  My guess, they simply declared "third party hardware at fault" and the $99 fee is to remove that and put a "properly working" piece in. In fact, that's pretty well stated in the article - the service centre removed the user's SSD and fitted a different one which allowed the firmware upgrade to proceed.

                  1. Falmari Silver badge

                    In fact, that's pretty well stated in the article

                    @SImon Hobson "In fact, that's pretty well stated in the article - the service centre removed the user's SSD and fitted a different one which allowed the firmware upgrade to proceed."

                    That's not what the article stated, the replace SSD so upgrade could proceed was a Mid 2015 MacBook Pro.

                    The $99 was for bricked 2020 MacBook Pro. The article does not give the reason why $99 was required to set things right.

                    1. Solviva Bronze badge

                      Re: In fact, that's pretty well stated in the article

                      Could be said user had in fact caused unrelated damage previously to the enclosure or screen, but despite that damage the laptop was 100% functional till the update.

                      Then come along Apple "Yes we'll take a look, but first we need to fix that unrelated damage for $99".

                      As stated above, it's $299 for other repairs (self inflicted rather than warranty failures), so reviving a dead machine would come under the $299 fee, which clearly it didn't.

                      1. Falmari Silver badge

                        Re: In fact, that's pretty well stated in the article

                        @solviva You may well be right, or SImon Hobson's theory may be right, we just don't know. Because as I said the article does not give the reason for the $99.

                        The twitter thread may give the reason, but I have not checked. Because a) I don't have twitter account and more importantly b) I can't be bothered. ;)

                        I was just pointing out to SImon Hobson that the machine that required a new SSD was not the machine that got the $99 repair bill. :)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "$99 and 24h later"

              So it seems is at least one of His Steveness's sock puppets.

              1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

                Re: "$99 and 24h later"

                Oh, I'm very honest about being (mostly) an Apple fan. I genuinely like most of what they put out (iPhone, iPad, most MacBooks, iEcosystem) with the occasional WTF (butterfly keyboard, CSAM) thrown in. I am grounded enough to recognise that they're (a) a corporation designed to make money, and (b) not perfect.

                If people have a genuine reason to dislike Apple then I'm very happy to accept that; what I have a problem with are the people who start frothing at the mouth at the mere mention of Apple, and who downvote a perfectly reasonable and accurate post just because it's not anti-Apple enough.

                1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

                  Re: "$99 and 24h later"

                  ...and at least 3 mouth frothers ^ have taken the bait. Sigh.

          2. Snapper

            Re: "$99 and 24h later"

            As long as you have purchased the Apple product as a consumer, not a business, then you have six years of warranty (five in Scotland) due to the little known UK Consumer Law.

            Apple Products and Consumer Laws in the United Kingdom https://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/uk/

            Like most businesses put in the same position, expect a bit of a hard time if you claim and you either don't have a receipt of purchase in your name or have opened the item or got a bit of dampness on it etc. Also expect the staff at Apple Stores to look even dumber and therefore insist on speaking to the manager if the five-year warranty is denied to exist.

            This length of warranty time is fairly consistent across the EU and is a legacy of our time spent there, but I would remind everyone that it is not an EU law, it is a UK one with slightly different interpretations in the devolved bits of the nation.

            One can only hope it lasts, can't one?

            1. SImon Hobson

              Re: "$99 and 24h later"

              Not this old lie again.

              The SOGAS Act does NOT give you 6 years warranty. It says that goods must be as described, reasonably durable, and free from defects at the point of sale. It does not make any statement at all about what timescale would be "reasonable" - that entirely depends on the situation (e.g. paying a lot of money for a high end device has a longer expectation than some cheap knock-off, and it may even be longer than 6 years. Personally, I don't think anyone with any knowledge of electronics & IT would consider 6 years a "reasonable" expectation of fault free performance - even for Apple - although it's common for stuff to last a lot longer (I've just upgraded from a 16 year old Macbook Pro to a 6 year old one, but only because I needed more up to date software support).

              The 6 years (5 years in Scotland) comes from a completely different piece of legislation - statute of limitations. That basically stops you taking civil action for a breach after 6 (5) years. It places an upper limit on your consumer rights, it does not mean you have a "6 year warranty".

              That Apple page is very misleading and just inviting problems for themselves.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "$99 and 24h later"

        It probably came to a total of $110 on account of that extra $19 cloth..

        :)

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: "$99 and 24h later"

          $99

          +$19

          ———

          $110

          Does not compute!

          1. Solviva Bronze badge

            Re: "$99 and 24h later"

            That's $110 + tax, the $19 cloth must have included tax :)

  4. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    It's astonishing how good Apple are at bricking their own hardware. Given how few configurations they have, and how locked down even desktops are, it's unbelievable that the upgrade doesn't go smoothly on every Mac on the planet.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      To be fair, it doesn't happen that often but it does happen often enough that people should know better. Still on Catalina until I'm confident Apple has fixed all the bugs related to the architecture shift and Toytown.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Maybe there are a few more configurations than meets the eye - an upgraded version of this or that chip during the life of a model could increase the configurations to several times nominal. There could even be configurations for which they don't have a reference sample.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        I suspect that goes on. A different controller here; memory chips from a different manufacturer there. But compared to what Microsoft face - or what Linux manages - it's a drop in the ocean. And not keeping reference samples is a bit silly.

        It's tough to know if any of that's the issue without knowing what's gone wrong. Of course, this being Apple, we'll never know...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          The possibility is that a component manufacturer makes a change which goes unnoticed downstream so nobody is aware that it's necessary to take a new reference sample.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How "good" they are? Really?

      It's more that it happens so seldom it's actually worth reporting.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Given how few hardware configurations Apple has to deal with, this should not happen at all. “Seldom” is just not good enough.

        If a few hundred volunteers can make sure Linux can run on pretty much any x86 system, how can Apple fail to make its own OS update on a small number of hardware systems that it itself designed?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Those few hundred "volunteers" are largely employed to work on Linux by the likes of Intel, Red Hat and all the other companies who, in one way or another, have a vested interest in it. Their employers are voluntarily collaborating on Linux because it's useful to them - they sell support or they sell hardware to run it on etc.

          It's very likely the fact that they have to support such a huge variety of implementations - and a good few different ISAs - that ensure it's flexible. A good rule is that if you design something to carry out a very specific job it ends up being only able to perform that job. If you look at that job as one example of a much wider class of jobs and set out to support that class you end up with something that's much more useful.

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        They were offered the opportunity to say this was vanishingly rare. Nada.

        Statistically speaking, there are going to be a few machines that will have a hardware failure (most likely a disk failure) during the install. Aside from those, there's no reason a software change should brick anything. The whole point of buying into Apple's control freakery is to avoid these problems. And being able to boot is the lowest of the low bars for an upgrade to clear.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        It seems to happen at least once a year, either with the major update or with firmware fixes, of which there are more than there should be.

    4. Paul 195
      IT Angle

      It's astonishing how good Apple are at bricking the limited number of configurations they have to support. Especially when you consider how many different configurations Microsoft have to support and how rarely they brick machines from a much larger cohort in their (consults notes) monthly update cycle. For the record I regularly use MacOS and Windows. And although there are many nice things about the Macbook Pro my employer furnishes me with, these days it kernel panics more often than my Dell XPS 15 bluescreens.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Interesting. I have a 2018 MBP and it never, ever crashes. Not once. My iPhone on the other hand has been freezing solid at least once every couple of days since iOS15; and on standard iOS apps as well. Photos causes it problems, the new Safari is horrible, and WhatsApp (ok that's 3rd party) constantly misbehaves itself.

  5. The Kraken

    Never install anything rev 0 on a mac that you rely on, daily.

    Thought everyone learnt that one back in the days of 10.0.1.

  6. Joe Gurman

    Guess I'm luckier

    Two iMacs (2017 and 2020 Intel), both updated without issue.

    This is way less serious than an update bricking your system, but Monterey appears to have broken then Slideshow screensaver for many users. No productivity impact, purely esthetic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guess I'm luckier

      "No productivity impact, purely aesthetic."

      Macs in a nutshell

      1. Skiver

        Re: Guess I'm luckier

        You could at least have the guts to post this under your user name.

  7. aerogems Silver badge

    A happy coincidence for Apple no doubt. I'm sure they're not doing this on purpose, but I'm also sure they're not above using the increased traffic to their stores to try to upsell people on a shiny new laptop or iMac. Probably with a nice AppleCare extended warranty to go with it and maybe some Beats headphones for Youtube binges, and why not just upgrade that phone too while you're there? Get some Airpods to go with. Then maybe a Homepod, which of course requires an Apple Music subscription to give you the full experience.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Don't forget to add they they might like a nice set of those dinky Mac Pro wheels to help move all their other purchases.

      A snip at only £699.

      God! No wonder all the Apple stores have glass doors, so they can see you coming.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        I'm more than a little surprised they've never tried selling a special wall mount accessory for the iMac. Then they could also sell a right-angle power cable. And of course that would then allow them to push their BT keyboards and mice, and maybe a special USB hub so you don't lose access to any USB ports. And if it's mounted to the wall, why not make a USB TV tuner to go with it?

    2. Snapper

      I don't think Apple has any problems filling its stores with customers. I went past the Regent St store in London a couple of weeks ago and it was heaving. Walked up to Oxford Circus a few hundred yards away and the copy-cat Microsoft Store (a vanishing breed of cat I believe) had two people wandering around and some bored staff leaning on counters.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Post-Jobs era...

    ..where they have taken this as not being a joke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqDVtB-6jDE

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Post-Jobs era...

      I'll really not sure how you take out linking. You can compile everything into a single object file (compile time). You can use dynamic linking at launch time. But you can't really get away from linking (and the overhead) happening somewhere in the pipeline.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Post-Jobs era...

        The suggestion from a member of the audience, to which Jobs did agree, was to also take out debugging from the development cycle to speed things up.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    Meh

    Read this on Ars or some other Apple centric site, the comments there put this to rest. It s a few outspoken Fanbois that probably had "modded' their system in some way. I've been running Monterrey since it was released to the seed program, I've seen some quirks(new features?), but no bricks. I'm on the 12.1 beta.

    1. schafdog

      Re: Meh

      So you’re a lucky puck…

      But just because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to others. You’re properly right in that is not widespread, but still it bloody serious to brink a device during upgrade. And they had a warning with the beta

      And not being open about it stinks.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        "And not being open about it stinks."

        Why change the habits of a lifetime?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      I have an i9 Macbook and a Mac mini M1 on 12.1, and I have been updating as the new OS came out. So far, no problem.

      That doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist, but I have as yet to see it.

  10. Learlo

    Don't wait to upgrade!

    Unfortunately this is how the most widely-used software is released nowadays, including MacOS. There are lots of automated tests covering the most important configurations and use cases. Then a very, very thin veneer of exploratory testing, mostly delegated to beta-testers.

    The problem is that those beta-testers typically have unusual/non-production use cases. So in reality whoever is in the middle, with not so common use cases, is in for a lot of trouble. A classic example on MacOS is anyone using 3 monitors, with an endless string of problems and the final proof of the M1 not even supporting the use case.

    Anyway, those in the middle have become more cautious with time, and have started waiting for version X.1. By doing this, their problems are noticed in enough numbers too late, so we are now waiting for version X.2.

    Please stop telling people to wait before upgrading, otherwise I'll have to start waiting for X.3. And that's dangerous territory because the mid-life version is usually X.4, which in the last five years has introduced more issues than X.0: new features and evidently zero non-automated testing. Upgrade, people: upgrade!

  11. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    "Freddy Mini, co-founder of TrustedOut, warned via Twitter that macOS Monterey had bricked his 2020 MacBook Pro, requiring him to visit an Apple Store and pay $99 to set things right."

    He had to pay $99 to get his Macbook unbricked after installing an Apple OS update?!? I very much doubt this happened as described. He'll have punched his MacBook in frustration and broken the keyboard or something, which Apple will have repaired under AppleCare for $99. And then unbricked and installed Monterey for free.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      No, it probabaly actually cost $299 to get it fixed if Apple's usual modus operandi was used.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          So?

          This is Apple we're talking about.

  12. Gordon 10

    CCC is your friend.

    Since one of the advantages of MacBooks is that external booting is trivial seems silly not to have an CCC'd version on standby prior to pressing the big upgrade button. Not that I blame the user, Apple's software updater shouldn't be so aggressively pushing a version x.0 piece of software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CCC is your friend.

      What, in the same way that Software Update on my Windows 10 laptop is 'suggesting' that I update to Windows 11? Apple are hardly unique there.

      As a very long-term user and admin of both Windows and Mac platforms, if I was forced (and it would have to be a pretty big force) to install a "point-zero" of one of their Operating Systems to guinea pi... I mean, try out... I'd (reluctantly) pick Apple first. That's really an easy choice, given the competition. But then, in the real world, short of threatening to shoot me or take away my coffee, I'm installing nobody's "point-zero". Feck that.

      PS: totally agree on making a CCC (or SuperDuper) image before any Mac-based OS update!

      1. Aussie Doc
        Pint

        Re: CCC is your friend.

        Damn.

        Taking someone's coffee is a low trick.

  13. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Alien

    Big Sur

    I've only just updated my iMac to Big Sur 11.6.1, so I'm not installing anything else for while, at least until the stories of bricks end.

    On another note, today all of the comments I view on the Register have about 6" of blank space after the last line (last line being the number of thumbs and the 'Reply' button). They were displayed normally yesterday.

    Oh well, back to whatever it was I was doing before.

    1. SW10
      FAIL

      Re: Big Sur

      all of the comments I view on the Register have about 6" of blank space after the last line

      You're holding it wrong

  14. Wolfclaw

    My company has had a couple of bricks and has banned any further upgrades until Apple sort it out.

    1. ibmalone
      Coat

      Are you a builder's merchant?

  15. nobody1111

    Worked on this last week. Two year old macbook owner "upgraded" the OS because "the computer told her to." Tried all the usual and some of the more arcane fixes. I was finally able to get it to boot into safe mode after all of the other resets but never could get any further. Trying to reinstall from scratch, repair the install, or just letting it boot normally results in it reaching one point then hanging. Yes, it was allowed to sit for over 24 hours at that point. Yes, the HD has plenty of free space. Yes, everything is stock. Yes, when you do the key press to report progress nothing happens.

  16. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    I smell a revolution

    A revolutionary technology advancement that Apple will invent to prevent this from ever happening again. Bold, high tech, exclusive, and in no way like having a deadman switch boot a backup of the original firmware as done in every Android phone, security camera, TV, tabletop virtual system, car, home theater system,...

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