Mac OS X Lion Drops Rosetta Support for PowerPC Apps

Jun 13, 2011 - 36 Comments

No Rosetta support in Mac OS X Lion

This is mostly a reminder, but Mac OS X Lion does not include support for PowerPC applications ran through Rosetta. This is important for users who continue to rely on old PPC apps, and this could sway some users decision on whether or not to upgrade to Lion come the public release next month.

Admittedly, the Rosetta-dependent group is probably fairly small in comparison to the wider Mac OS X user base. Rosetta apps are at least 5 years old, which is when Apple made the hardware switch from PPC to Intel CPU’s.

Outside of this and the lack of 32-bit Core Duo/Solo, the Lion system requirements are surprisingly lightweight and forgiving.

This reminder comes via MacRumors, and they quote MacWorld saying that if you still need Rosetta support you might want to try just dual booting Lion and Snow Leopard.

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.

That’s one solution, but it sounds like a hassle to me. Lion looks like a great upgrade, so personally I think I’d just ditch the Rosetta apps.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS


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  1. Blutojohn says:

    This is fully lame. I paid money for mountain lion just to render a few programs I have unusable?!? What were you guys thinking? Do you even give a crap about serving your customers?

  2. […] Mountain Lion: The latest Mac OS X, 10.8 Mountain Lion, has AirPlay Mirroring built in. The $19.99 upgrade price is quite reasonable, but there are hardware limitations to running the latest Mac OS. Also, a lot of schools are still running 10.6 for a variety of reasons, including 10.7 and 10.8’s incompatibility with non-universal apps. […]

  3. Lots of pre existing addons to current software (that does run in Lion) no longer installs and the developers will not recode the installers. Especially true in the 3D world.
    It’s not just a “Dinosaur” issue.

  4. ragz says:

    Hi. I have thid CD which came along with my text-book. When i try to use it on my macbook pro (OS: Lion), it says “Power PC apps are no longer supported.. Any ideas on how to make this thigi work WITHOUT having multiple OS.. Thanks.

  5. Katie says:

    OK uploaded the Lion and lost ability to access my Office, which I use daily. Can I undo the upgrade don’t really want to spend the $150 on new Office. Are there any other versions of Office that run?

  6. MartinP says:

    Lots of bits and pieces taken away, but have Apple added any new features in 10.7 that are big enough to make up for the ones taken away on Apple’s whim?

  7. RyanC says:

    I’m not sure what I am going to do… I have to use Rosetta for school so…

  8. Johan Forssblad says:

    It is not only a matter of software. It is the ability to use existing and expensive hardware. Some hardware were made in small quantities that they are not produced anymore and their software will never be updated.

    We need Rosetta or another solution to be able to work and make business with our existing (non computer) hardware. But we also need to updfate our system sooner or later.

    Apple, please take the history into consideration when you make decisions. It is very important to be able to open and continue to work on old files (FCP X in fresh memory). Thank you!

  9. VBA in older Office says:

    Real world work in an corporation requires I have VBA Macro capability that hoary Excel 2004 provides.

    My non-work Photoshop/Indesign/Illustrator suite cannot be upgraded for a finanical reasons. I use this daily for creative (and scientific) purposes.

    This really will leave a lot of people with seriously reduced capabilities.

  10. Ray says:

    Not updating to Lion here yet either. Anything that uses PowerPC will not work and that includes my I1Display monitor calibration and half of my Photoshop CS5 plugin suites (all bought within the last year). When all this software gets an update then I’ll consider it.

  11. Dave says:

    Spend 60 seconds and tell Apple that they should SELL Rosetta for Lion on the App store.

    How would this not be a total win? Fewer people delaying upgrade, enough cash to cover the development and support, more happy customers.

  12. Michael says:

    I would agree on both ends of this issue because on the one hand there are programs that are very important to many people (such as Microsoft and Adobe products) that require Rosetta to run properly which IS a very big issue, however, I can also see the point of view that Apple is taking of maintaining “ahead-of-the-curve” aspirations.

    The main thing to remember is since moving away from their PPC beginnings Apple has chosen the Intel platform to begin making a foundation so these compatibility issue do not occur in the future.

    So should Rosetta have been included in Lion? In my opinion, yes. Should Rosetta be included in the next OS release after Lion? In my opinion, no. Here’s the deal, I have owned many machines that have had many types of OSs from Unix to Linux and from Apple to Windows and one major issue arises in each and every OS type: compatibility.

    No matter what OS a person uses there is a 100% chance that at least one program made 5, 6, 7, etc years ago will no longer work with the latest version of the OS. I have Windows program from 1999 that no longer work on Windows 7 just as I have programs from 2003 that no longer work on Mac OS X 10.5+ (even with Rosetta.)

    Compatibility issues are “growing pains” that will lead to a better products in the future. I do believe change is a good thing in most cases but as I preluded to earlier, taking out Rosetta this early (before the 7 year mark) is just too early. Apple should keep Rosetta, then remove it in their next major release.

    • Liam says: That’s the real problem here. Pardon my ignorance but would it be so much of a hassle, programmingly speaking to just freaking leave Rosetta where it was? I mean, everything I had that depends on it still run on Windows, so the worst it’ll happen to me is doing what I’ve been postponing for ages and just get Parallel and Windows 7 (even if doing so will most certainly result in the death of a baby panda somewhere else in the world), but it I can see why it just won’t cut for most people running older apps. Apple will have to work really hard to piss me off the way Microsoft did on my 17 first years of computing, but it bothers me that they’re trying.

    • Leon says:

      I also have software that will only run using Rosetta and CANNOT be replaced — only substituted for by other software with a steep learning curve. I am still using the last version of Macromedia Freehand and I’m quite comfortable with it even though it will never be upgraded since Adobe bought Macromedia and deep-sixed Freehand to eliminate competition for Illustrator.

      Would it be impossible to create a freestanding version of Rosetta that runs as an emulator ON TOP of 10.7? Or under it ? or wherever works? That way those of us who still need Rosetta or its equivalent will be able to continue using our thousands of $$ of PPC software until we NEED to upgrade it. Of course, that might cut some short-term profits for the big software companies…

      • Tom Rose says:

        In answer to your question, there is a very simple solution. Running Snow Leopard in a VM under Lion would allow Rosetta applications to continue, and they would be well integrated with your native applications running under Lion.

        But the VM applications (Parallels, VMWare) deliberately prevent this, presumablt at Apple’s request, even though there is no technical reason for it, and even though it almost certainly does not contravene the license terms of Snow Leopard (You would be running just one installed copy, on Mac hardware).

        It is that attitude that is so bad, and is the main reason that I shall be spending the next year or so NOT upgrading all my applications, but disentangling myself from Apple. I am not prepared to risk the next set of useless additions, lost features, and increased restrictions onw hat I can do. Lion has made me completely lose faith in Apple. I doubt that they will do anything to win it back

  13. […] may know by now that OS X Lion drops Rosetta support, that means old PowerPC apps will no longer run in Mac OS X 10.7 […]

  14. ceebee says:

    I am in a cleft stick. I need PPC support for a range of apps and devices.. inc I might add Logic Pro… which uses a PPC based installer (amongst others!)

    I either rush out and buy a Mac NOW before all new Macs become unable to boot in Snow Leopard or hang on to my not very old Mac pros for longer than is ideal and leave them stuck on Snow Leopard.

    Like the current Final Cut Pro X debacle, Apple seems intent on leaving behind users who don’t want the latest consumer iGadget but do have a need of a working IT environment.

    If the 64bit goodness of Lion might be despoiled by the 32bitPPC environment how come 32bit Intel will run fine?

    This is a decision based not on user needs or technological reasons but on Apple’s own internal strategies and displays Apple’s increasing disinterest in its long term user-base.

    And judging by much what I believe is in Lion I really see no need to move to it anyway. If I want iOS I will buy an iPhone or iPad.

    It feeds my increasing feeling that in the near future I will be forced to migrate my work from Mac simply to be sure of ongoing support in the professional space.

  15. Ryan says:

    The only thing i’ll lose is marbleblast. No biggie.

  16. shane says:

    What is this putz central? We’re not using Rosetta apps because we WANT to, we’re using them because 5 years later we’re still waiting for the software company to provide a Mac OS X native version. For example, “Dramatica Pro” still relies on Rosetta and as I’m a writer, “just ditching my Rosetta app. is moronic as this poster/writer’s suggestion of doing so. It’s also ripe with grossly inaccurate assumptions and insulting. GET REAL!

    • Tom Rose says:

      That is one reason to continue using Rosetta and a good one. Another reason, one that affects me more, is that it can cost a lot of money to “upgrade”, and why would I want to do that when the end result is that I can just continue to do what I can do perfectly well right now.

      Some smart-alecks say “No-one is forcing you to upgrade”. But staying with Snow Leopard is not a long term solution for a variety of reasons:

      1. Before long new software will start to require Lion.
      2. Eventually my hardware will fail, and (please correct me if I am wrong) Snow Leopard will not run on the latest intel Macs

      What really stinks is the way that Apple have colluded with VM vendors to prevent you from running Snow Leopard under a VM on Lion, which would be the simple way out of this dilemma. This shows that they want to force us to stop using it.

      I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike other people telling me what is good for me and what I ought to do, especially when they don’t know me, and even more so when they use devious means and strong arm tactics to force me to toe their line.

  17. James says:

    Quicken 2007 is another issue for me. Not a financial problem but the Quicken Essentials software for Intel Macs is crap. So I either need to find something else to use (I’m trying out iBank) or do all my finances on the Window’s version of Quicken via Parallels (pain in the arse).

    Oh… I just saw I have an older version of Rosetta Stone Spanish that I use a few times a year to keep my Spanish skills sharp. That is also very expensive.


  18. mike says:

    Does this mean that my old but extremely capable Epson 2400 scanner and equally old and serviceable HP deskjet 5552 printer will no longer work?? Does not seem such a good deal to me!

    • Matt says:

      That’s a good question, I would assume that there will be new printer and scanner drivers in Lion, but you might want to wait until after its released before upgrading.

      • Tom Rose says:

        I would not rely on new drivers appearing.

        Aperture 2 still will not support several RAW formats. Apple wants me to “Upgrade” to Aperture 3.

  19. Robert Elliott says:

    My view is right along with James.

  20. […] 記事元: Mac OS X Lion Drops Rosetta Support for PowerPC Apps. […]

  21. Alo says:

    Actually, the worst offenders here are Printer drivers and Microsoft Office.

    I’ve got a Dell Printer that’s seen good use over the years, but that requires Rosetta for the drivers. Bad luck.

    MSO 2011 is the first version that didn’t require Rosetta for the installation having to but it, even as an upgrade, after you bought MSO 2008 definitely hurts.

  22. qka says:

    Not exactly news – wasn’t this announced at WWDC 2010?

    As for Rosetta – yea, PPC apps are old. But….

    1) Some apps have never been updated, particularly education, scientific, and for other specialized fields. So old Macs have to be kept running. So…

    2) Macs just keep running. My PowerBook G4 is about to turn 6 years old, and is still going strong. Just some things it cannot handle. (Flash video)

  23. James says:

    I agree that it only makes sense to upgrade any Rosetta software. However, I do own a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS which I believe I got in 2003. That is a VERY expensive application…. so I’m not really wanting to buy a new version when this version works perfectly well.

    • CC says:

      Right, Photoshop CS, After Effects 6.5… they run fine… why would I spend $29 for Lion and $1600 to replace these other programs. Duhhh? Get real Steve and Phil, these economics simply don’t work.

      I think they’re making a bit of a misjudgment. Of course it’s Apple with the cattle prod out. I love their engineering, but hate their offensive incursions into my wallet. This one is senseless.

      Apple loses on this one.

  24. Edwin says:

    OMG you are a dinosaur if you’re still using PPC software! This is 2011!

    • ian says:

      Agreed. Might as well croak and moan about not being able to run ClarisWorks 4 and MacPaint on Lion too.

    • Quake 3 for fun match with the entire team.

    • Tom Rose says:

      You may not mind being forced to spend many thousands of pounds every couple of years to replace perfectly good software that runs fine and does exactly what I want.

      I have better things to do with my money.

      And it is not just Rosetta. There is NOTHING new in Lion that is any use to me. Ther is a lot of useful stuff that htey have taken away. Spaces for one.

      Unless Apple relents and starts to listen to its long-term users (and I very much doubt that they will) then Snow Leopard will be my last version of Mac OS X.

    • chris says:

      what an idiot!
      I am using 2K’s worth of Nikon hardware (not a camera) that is no longer produced. Therefore the has software not updated since 2007. SO what choice do I have? There is no new software I can upgrade to.

      I would have to replace some extremely good hardware there is functioning well.

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