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OS X Lion to Drop 'Rosetta' Support for PowerPC Applications

Soon after Apple released the first developer preview version of OS X Lion back in late February, we noted that Apple appeared to have dropped support for Rosetta, the system that allowed Intel-based Macs to run applications written for earlier PowerPC-based systems.

Apple of course made the transition to Intel-based processors five years ago, and Rosetta is an optional install under Snow Leopard, but some users are still hanging onto old PowerPC applications that either have not been updated at all or have updated versions to which the users do not wish to upgrade for one reason or another.

With OS X Lion now on its fourth developer preview version and a public release set for next month, it is clear that Rosetta will not be making an appearance in Apple's next-generation Mac operating system, finally leaving those legacy applications out in the cold.


As Macworld notes today in trying to help a user hoping to hold on to an old PowerPC version on Quicken, users who wish to upgrade to Lion while still retaining compatibility with their old applications will need to get creative.
Broadly, you have a couple of options. One is to create a dual-boot Mac -- one that can boot from two volumes. One volume contains Lion and another runs an older version of the Mac OS. When you need to spend some quality Rosetta time, you boot into the older OS. And yes, this is a pain.

The other option is to simply not update to Lion. Your Mac will continue to work just as well as it does today. How acceptable this is to you depends on how desperate you are for Lion's features and iCloud (some of iCloud's features will require Lion).
Macworld also suggests the possibility of running Quicken for Windows either in Boot Camp or using virtualization software such as Parallels or VMware Fusion. Quicken is a particularly interesting case given Inuit's recent revamp of its product line that has essentially left the Mac platform without a current equal to the Windows version or even earlier Mac versions, a move that has left many longtime Quicken users hoping desperately to keep their old Mac versions going.

And of course one final option is to simply abandon use of the old PowerPC applications and find substitute offerings that will run natively on Intel-based processors. Ideal substitutes may not exist for all software, particularly specialized titles, and thus users will have to weigh the pros and cons of each solution.

After five years of offering Rosetta as a solution to allow users to keep running PowerPC applications on Intel-based machines, it is no surprise that Apple has finally made the move to discontinue support. Apple's decision does mean, however, that some users will finally have to make decisions about how best to move forward with the current architecture.


Top Rated Comments

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55 months ago
The switch to intel has been going on since 2005.

I hate to break it to some people but its probably time to upgrade.
Rating: 20 Votes
55 months ago
PPC Applications

Believe it or not, my office still uses Appleworks.

With this news, we are finally making the transition to Pages.

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

P.S.

In a conversation with a "Genius" at the Apple Store, I was told that (the employee) too used Appleworks - albeit to save his passwords into. He figured that if his info was ever stolen, almost nobody would be able to open a .cwk file.
Rating: 9 Votes
55 months ago
I'm intrigued - is there much PPC only software still out therE?
Rating: 8 Votes
55 months ago
Freehand users (like me) are crying now.
Rating: 7 Votes
55 months ago
Goodbye Marble Blast gold ... :( haha.
Rating: 7 Votes
55 months ago
I'll miss Diablo 1 + 2...

...but that's ok, 3 isn't far (hopefully ;) )
Rating: 6 Votes
55 months ago


More than likely is Apple screw up. You have to remember dev cycles are years long (in the case of office) so having a road map 2-3 years out is very helpful as I pointed out above. This is Apple failing to communicated or even provide a road map that is useful


So it's Apple's fault that Microsoft decided to use PPC installer for 2008 Office? All sane developer were shipping UB apps/installers in 2008.
Rating: 6 Votes
55 months ago

The switch to intel has been going on since 2005.

I hate to break it to some people but its probably time to upgrade.


Yep, if I'm going to have to run Windows to use any productive software (Quicken) then why not upgrade to a Windows PC and be done with it. No more worrying about whether an application will be available or supported in the logn term. Good idea. Thanks for the advice.
Rating: 5 Votes
20 months ago

Why are you brining up this up from a thread that died 2 years ago? got question then use the support section of the website.

Dear god, what is it with all the necrophiliacs digging up dead threads from years ago?


WTF, this isn't a site that permanently closes threads. Whether someone posts today or three years from now, it goes to the top of the list and people subscribed to the thread still are notified of new posts. Would you prefer people start new threads on existing topics? That would be pointless. I mean WTF is your problem? Seriously. Just ignore it or unsubscribe from the thread if you just can't stand it. Problem solved.
Rating: 5 Votes
55 months ago

There is no practical reason to drop Rosetta, it's tiny,


Rosetta is anything but Tiny. It requires shipping all the system frameworks as fat binaries built for both Intel and PPC architecture. It requires tons of Q&A to make sure all those frameworks don't break on PowerPC, close to 5 years after Apple dropped the architecture.

There is a big practical reason to drop Rosetta : Drop all the PPC code, thus making Lion fit inside the 4GB download. Drop all the Q&A of PPC code in the frameworks, thus easing the process and requiring less ressources.

As all transitional technologies, it was bound to happen. The good thing for everyone needed PPC apps : Snow Leopard will still work after Lion ship, just like Leopard still works now and just like you can run any old software and OS out there.

And since new Macs will ship with Lion soon, these people will then actually _not_ buy new hardware.


Sure they will, if the PPC software is so irreplaceable, they'll just keep the old hardware around. However, I doubt the software is irreplaceable really, it's more that people are used to how it works and refuse to change. Let's face it, Intuit is in the wrong here for not providing a true Quicken version, just use some other budgeting software, it's a dime a dozen.

Tons of my games only work on DOS or Win 9x. I have the original floppies and CDs lying around, basically useless to me unless I install one of those old OSes (except for DOSbox, god I love DOSbox).


IIRC installing Rosetta in Snow Leopard only adds ~100MB.

It was the most elegant way to use software designed for a different processor architecture and so understandably people are pissed off it's not going to work in Lion.

I suggest emailing Apple/Jobs rather than just mouthing off here. You never know, they might listen!
Rating: 5 Votes

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