Eating Apple’s dog food

October 13, 2011, 3:14 PM UTC

A long afternoon of teeth-gnashing for early iCloud adopters

When Microsoft (MSFT) was developing Windows NT in the early 1990s, the project manager insisted that the 200 engineers assigned to the task do it on computers running NT’s latest build — a practice known in the industry as dogfooding.

Early adopters of Apple’s (AAPL) iCloud got a taste of what that’s like Wednesday when the company released, in short order:

  • OS X 10.7.2, the version of Lion required to run iCloud
  • A Lion Recovery Update (don’t ask)
  • And iOS 5, the long-awaited update of the operating system that runs iPhones, iPads and iPod touches

Wise computer users will wait a decent interval before rushing into such things. But for enthusiasts who just have to have the latest thing — and those of us who are paid to do so — it was long and painful process.

I started updating my Mac shortly after 1:00 p.m. EST and my iPhone about 20 minutes later. According to iTunes, the iOS 5 update would take 10 minutes. Three restarts and three hours and 28 minutes later it was finally complete.

Meanwhile on my MacBook Pro, the OS X installation process had ground to a halt. Software Update informed me at about 3 p.m. that it was going to take 92 hours to finish installing Lion Recovery Update, at which point I quit and started over.

I’m sure most of my woes — and those of the legions of Mac users reporting similar troubles (see Business Insider’s Updating to iOS 5 has been a massive headache) — were due to the crush of simultaneous requests to Apple’s servers. And indeed, by 5 p.m. the logjam seemed to have broken up.

Even so, Thursday morning still felt like an Apple shakedown cruise. Calendar synching was a nightmare, with entries either popping up twice or not all. OS X kept asking me for the password to my no-longer-operative MobileMe account. And the Mail app — which was hit and miss all Wednesday — was rejecting my password to, which it has decided is now my incoming mail server.

Result: No incoming mail at all since 8:32 this morning. Which I suppose I could take as a blessing.