After 23 years, Apple has announced that macOS Server is being phased out. The program, which provides device management services and a few other functions to those who share a network with several Macs, iPhones, and iPads, is still available for purchase, download, and use with macOS Monterey.
It is also still available for $20 at the time of writing, but it will no longer be updated with new features or security patches.
Although macOS Server was never as popular as the consumer versions of the operating system, it has a lengthy history dating back to Apple’s late-’90s acquisition of NeXT and its NeXTSTEP software.
In March of 1999, NeXTSTEP was converted into a project dubbed “Rhapsody,” which included compatibility for specific old Apple applications and a more Mac-like user interface launched as Mac OS X Server 1.0.
This early version of Mac OS X Server maintained many of the same underpinnings as Mac OS X. Still, it preceded key user interface aspects like the Dock and the Aqua theme, which would debut two years later in Mac OS X’s first consumer edition.
The end of maintenance
Mac OS X Server remained a wholly independent operating system from the original release through the introduction of Snow Leopard Server (version 10.6) in 2009. Beginning with Mac OS X Lion, Apple began offering the Server software as a downloadable add-on app for any Mac, coinciding with the retirement of Apple’s last rack-mounted Xserve hardware.
The program’s price was similarly decreased due to the change; a single Snow Leopard Server license costs $499, while the Server app costs only $50.
Apple continued to develop the Server app in the years after, releasing new versions roughly in sync with yearly Mac OS improvements.