Which Macintosh Operating System should I go for?
According to the results of a survey conducted by MacFixIt.com which were released on 10 February 2001 in an article entitled, System Crashes: poll results and the bottom line, users found all versions of MacOS8.5 and higher to be a little quicker than MacOS8.1. This was because most of the extensions, control panels and other parts of the system were successfully converted to PowerPC code.
Of particularly high praise by users was MacOS8.6 because of its stability and not just for its slightly greater responsiveness and overall speed, while three quarters of users who were using MacOS9.0.4 or 9.1 found the system to be virtually faultless or very few errors. Of the remaining one quarter of users who did mention regular system crashes with the MacOS9 version, it was almost certainly due to insufficient memory (i.e. probably an old Macintosh computer being pushed to the limits) and running old, possibly incompatible software on such a modern operating system architecture.
At any rate, of the 7057 people who did send in their responses to the question, "How often has your Mac crashed in the past 40 hours?", considered the most popular question asked so far in the February 2001 survey according to MacFixIt.com:
"Never, 1378 (20%); Once or twice, 2560 (36%); Three to six, 1735 (25%); Seven to twelve, 697 (10%); and More than twelve, 687 (10%)."
In the survey, everyone reported using System 7 to MacOSX, but few were using the very oldest (System 7) or the very latest (MacOSX) system software. Most users were either using MacOS8.6 or MacOS9.0.4.
When the responses were more closely analysed, there was a couple of interesting common themes running through those users who had the most stable systems: (i) they installed more than the minimum amount of recommended RAM, and (ii) they gave their applications more than their minimum recommended memory requirements to run properly.
For those who did have regular system crashes, this tended to be due to limited RAM installed, too many USB devices plugged to the computer, running older software and hardware, and certain games.
Of the few new software that created the most system crashes, apparently Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 tops the list. The software's memory-hungry requirements, especially when displaying complex web pages and running sites with Java applets, is thought to be the cause for a number of system crashes.