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.

rosetta banner
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.

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Top Rated Comments

ThisIsNotMe Avatar
169 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.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gray.2 Avatar
169 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.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LastLine Avatar
169 months ago
I'm intrigued - is there much PPC only software still out therE?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wordoflife Avatar
169 months ago
Goodbye Marble Blast gold ... :( haha.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Shimiko Avatar
169 months ago
Freehand users (like me) are crying now.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jerome Morrow Avatar
169 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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)