Unlike Windows 10 (in my experience), Apple has always broken compatibility with every major update for (literally) decades. This often requires paid 3rd party software updates. Windows on the one hand has a mission to try to support so many hardware configs for billions of users; Apple on the other, chooses to stride forward for an increasingly ‘better’ & tighter control of its hardware, components and [ahem] ‘security’. The system that ships with the computer cannot be downgraded to an earlier version, etc etc.
So we all should know what we get from Apple by now & make the choice if that obviously known behaviour is the right one for us … clearly macOS is easier to setup and maintain for consumers /non-ICT people. Win needs config for pro work, needs a bit of research etc. I use both platforms, I like both of them really although trouble-shooting macOS is far more difficult than it used to be: multi-boot systems, recovery (ahem, BIOS), Unix commands, etc. Win10 for Workstations, great kit.
In any case, Big Sur should be GM in the next few weeks (like mid-October), the current B9 is very good in my experience and certainly fixed many of the bugs in Catalina (which I was forced to use because this particular mac ships with that system). Elsewhere, varied reports seem to confirm that Big Sur is not all that much different from Catalina in that it continues the significant changes (post Mojave) started in that system. The eye candy is different of course (faux iOS) but overall I find the generic improvements to the Finder et al quite good.
T2 computers and security is quite another matter: that is ramped up enormously, eg, say a clean install of Big Sur & a TM migration - every single app needs to be opened and allowed to access mic, camera, security & privacy pane etc. Goes on & on & on, but, when complete all seems to work.
Overall I would say that the important starting point is the audio interface & its drivers; if that goes, then much other seems to follow. Clearly, UA have got it right; haven’t tested yet but likely would be the same for RME - so nothing new here, we are already aware of the best and worst vendors for that (eg, nobody hold their breath for MOTU).
To the question abut plugs, compatibility etc: some do some don’t & that’s why myself & colleagues build test systems over time, then eventually image these over to work systems when ready. Working here:
- UAD, Apollo X, Luna, Nuendo, Wavelab, Logic, DaVinci Resolve Studio, FCPX Fab Filter, Spectrasonics, many other miscellaneous. NI Komplete install seems to be working well thus far, but haven’t finished that one yet (and with great improvements in Native Access for maintaining & recoginising prior external sound library install & archives).
- Completely the opposite for Steinberg Library Manager & Download Assistant - nothing to do with Big Sur, has always been a dog, does not care about years of prior installs & always requires the longwinded download and reinstall. I think I may end up dropping Absolute 4 for exactly this reason.
- SoftRAID drivers come with Big Sur, but the application itself will not install; waiting for SoftRAID 6 & which will also work with the same volumes on Win & macOS.
- Slower progress & patchy with Steinberg plugs, eg, Halion & Groove Agent have graphical glitches.
Not working: ProTools 2020.09 has graphic issues, Ableton Live cannot scan and load its Libs. MOTU DP10 kills Big Sur completely. However, this security pane lock-out have been a known issue in the last few betas & will likely be resolved by GM.
ie, one of the ‘loops’ one can get into is that some install is not up to speed with drivers or security, kills the Security and Prefs pane and then means the user cannot access that pane for other installs which require it. This then usually requires a recovery system or re-install.
The other glaring issue (again security) is that the .kexts (drivers) for many of these apps need to be more than updated, they need to re-written. As far as I can tell, no more Library /Extensions but now Library /SystemExtensions - but that doesn’t explain the success of the UA drivers sitting in the old location.
Still, Big Sur is very much a welcome relief from Catalina. Increasingly becoming my daily driver, but of course this depends of what a particular user might own … Obviously, never install over a working system; use an independent disk (in my case, a 500GB Samsung EVO 970+ running in an M.2 slot of a Thunderbay 6). Cut over when ready.
Bit long for a blog eh? YMMV, good luck. Some useful Big Sur fora here.