Dropping "Rosetta" Support for Old Software: Does This Affect YOU?
When a new Mac or Windows operating system upgrade is released, there are inevitably some software programs which need to be updated for compatibility.
Starting with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple will no longer include "Rosetta," a component of the Mac OS which allows old "PowerPC-only" software to run. The RetroTechs have done some research to make the upgrade easier for you:
- First, we'll explain what "Rosetta" and "PowerPC" means and why this decision was made.
- Then, we'll list some of the most popular applications to show which versions are affected by this. Also we'll show you how to check any software that you have, so you can find out if you will need to upgrade anything for compability with Lion.
- Finally, for those who cannot yet replace certain old PowerPC apps but want to use the new OS, there is a work-around. It isn't particularly convenient when you need to run the old app(s)…but if you want to upgrade to Lion and still be able to access that old software, it can be done.
Many Mac users won't be affected by the removal of Rosetta at all, but a large number of people will have to upgrade or replace an old application or two. Those who have stuck with the same old versions of several programs for years will have to purchase a larger number of upgrades before they can make the leap to Lion.
Rosetta Who? The PowerPC to Intel Transition
For many years prior to 2005, all Macintosh computers used PowerPC processors: These CPUs were made by IBM, with some help from Apple and Motorola. The last "generations" of PowerPC processors which Apple used — between 1997 and 2006 — were referred to as the G3, G4 and G5.
During 2005 and 2006, Apple phased out the PowerPC chips in favor of newer processor models from Intel, which could provide faster performance. But different types of processors do not "speak the same language." Apple encouraged software developers to come out with new versions of their software for Intel processors…or versions which included code for both the new Intel-processor Macs and the older PowerPC ones. This type of software which can be installed and used on two types of processors is referred to as "Universal Binary."
As a temporary bridge for software which developers had not yet updated to work on Intel Macs, Apple added Rosetta to the Mac OS: Rosetta is a "dynamic translator," which allowed the Intel hardware to understand old PowerPC code. It's a streamlined set of instructions running behind the scenes. Apple's marketing material described it as "the most amazing software you'll never see." It allowed anyone with a newer Intel Mac to install either type of software — even if it was an older version developed for PowerPC Macs. PowerPC software wouldn't run as fast as "Intel-native" software, but it would "just work" transparently.
Since Rosetta is being discontinued with Lion, those older apps will not run with the new OS:
||OS X 10.4 – 10.6
||OS X 10.7. Lion
|Intel-only & Universal Binary
Why is Apple Doing Away with Rosetta?
Rosetta was intended to be a transitional solution. Mac applications have shifted from PowerPC-only to Universal Binary and then Intel-only, as more users retired those old G4s and G5s. For example, Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard," Adobe CS5, Microft Office 2011 and the newest versions of Acrobat, Adobe Reader, Firefox, Flash, iLife and iWork all only run on Intel Macs, not PowerPC ones.
Programmers can't keep developing new apps, utilities and drivers which support old technology. If they tried to keep doing this, the software would be MUCH more complex…inevitably it would be buggier and could not be as streamlined and powerful. Apple has had to make a similar change before: During the early/mid 1990s, they had to transition from "68K" Motorola processors to the first generations of PowerPC processors.
Will My Mac Hardware Support Lion?
The vast majority of Macs now in use have Intel CPUs. If you are using OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard," you definitely have an Intel Mac. Lion will run on all but the very earliest Intel Macs.
If you have an older operating sytsem — Mac OS 10.5 or older — and aren't sure whether your Mac is Intel or PowerPC, here's how to check:
Do I have PowerPC software which must be upgraded?
We'll show you how to check your specific applications in a moment. Here are some examples of popular software versions which require Rosetta, and thus will not run on OS X 10.7 "Lion."
NOTE: Not all versions newer than these listed are guaranteed to work with Lion. Most of the newer versions will work since they are made for Intel Macs, but some will require the most recent major upgrade and/or downloadable patches for complete compatibility with Lion.
PowerPC-only versions – will not work with Lion:
- Adobe Creative Suite: Versions CS2 and earlier
- AppleWorks: All versions; need to replace with iWork or MS Office
- FileMaker Pro: Versions 8 and earlier
- Macromedia Freehand/Studio: All versions; replace with Adobe apps, etc.
- Microsoft Office: 2004 and earlier (including Office X)
- Quicken and Quicken Essentials: Note that these are different programs with different features and capabilities. ALL versions of Quicken for Mac—last updated as "Quicken 2007"—are PowerPC-only, and, thus will not work with Lion at all. Quicken Essentials was developed more recently and is Intel-compatible, so it will run on Lion. Unfortunately, Essentials does not have all of the features of Quicken. Intuit had stated that they were working on a newer "full" version of Quicken, but they have recently backed off of that commitment; it looks less likely for the near future, if at all. For more info about alternatives, including running Quicken for Windows on a Mac:
Is Quicken for Mac Compatible with Mac OS 10.7 Lion?
Lion fatally mauls Quicken for Mac:
Quicken won't run on Lion: 10 Mac finance apps that will
Lion and the Rosetta dead-end [running Qucken for Windows on a Mac]
- QuickTime: QuickTime is included with OS X, so most users don't need to check anything here. But for those who have additional codecs — such as video editors — make sure that the codecs you need are Intel or Universal, not PowerPC.
- Drivers: Some Epson or Nikon scanner drivers/utilities are PowerPC and, thus, will not run. Of course, newer devices are less likely to have problems. In many cases, scanner users can use Apple Image Capture—included with OS X—or a third-party alternative like Vuescan.
- Games: There is a wide variety here, of course. A couple of popular PowerPC games which people have been able to use with recent versions of OS X but will fall by the wayside with Lion are Diablo II and Starcraft.
- Bundled apps — Art Director's Toolkit, GraphicConverter, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner and Zinio Reader: Several years ago, some Macs came with PowerPC versions of these applications. Newer versions of these are available, and in some cases, Universal or Intel versions were bundled with newer Macs. If you have an older version, upgrades are availalable, but upgrades for ADT and GC are not free.
Fortunately, it's easy to check your programs to see which — if any — require Rosetta and therefore, cannot run on Lion.
Method 1: Check One App at a Time with "Get Info"
1. ) In the Finder, navigate to the icon for the program that you want to check. All of your apps should be somewhere in the "Applications" folder, at the main level of your hard drive. NOTE: A convenient shortcut is to click-and-hold OR right-click on an icon in the Dock and choose Options/Show in Finder. This will take you straight to that application's icon in the Finder.
2.) Select the Application's icon and then call up the "Get Info" window: Either…
- Use the keyboard shortcut: Command-I
- Right-click the icon and select "Get Info"
- Go to the "File" menu and choose "Get Info"
3.) Note that there are several sections in the "Info" window. Make sure the "General" section is open. (Click the small arrow to open "General," if needed.)
4.) Look at the "Kind" field. It will show that the application is either Intel, Universal or PowerPC. Some examples:
This version of Firefox is Intel-only.
So it doesn't need "Rosetta" support and should work:
This version of Acrobat is a Universal Binary.
So it should be OK:
Internet Explorer for Mac (and other platforms other than Windows) was discontinued years ago. So this was never updated for Intel and will not run in Lion:
Method 2: Check multiple apps with System Profiler
- Go to the Apple Menu and select "About this Mac."
- Near the bottom of the "About this Mac" window which appears, click the "More Info" button.
- A new window will open: This is the "System Profiler" application. On the left side, go to "Software" and select "Applications." There you can see a list of all of the Apps on your Mac, and check to see if they are PowerPC, Universal or Intel.
For example, this Mac has Microsoft Office 2008 (version 12, Universal) and 2011 (version 14, Intel). Both of them should run with OS X 10.7, although there are no guarantees. Since Office 2008 isn't as new, it probably isn't tested as rigorously for compatibility with the new OS. If there are any significant issues found with Office 2011, they are more likely to be resolved quickly.
For those who really want to upgrade to Lion, but have an older PowerPC app which they can't — or don't want to — upgrade, it is possible to set up a "dual-boot" system. This requires more than one partition…either more than one drive or a single drive with multiple partitions.
This allows a user to upgrade to Lion on one partition and keep most of their software and files there, while maintaining a second partition with an older operating system (10.4, 10.5, or 10.6) to support their older PowerPC application(s) via Rosetta. This setup requires one to reboot into the older OS to use Rosetta, but it is a viable option for those who only need to work with the older application(s) once in a while. In some cases, it is possible to even add a second partition to your current drive without erasing any current data, but of course you MUST back up everything first!
It Bears Repeating: Back Up First!
Of course, you should back up regularly under any circumstances and make sure your backup is current before a major operating system upgrade.
Hopefully, you don't have to upgrade too many Apps to use Lion. If you do, you will benefit from better performance with the newer version of the software. And, if you need to replace your Mac down the line, you would need to upgrade that software at that time anyway. Of course, it's easier to upgrade applications when you can plan for it, than it is when an old computer has a hardware problem and needs to be replaced by a new Mac which will come with the new OS.
Regardless of your current setup and needs, The RetroTechs can assist you with upgrading applications, making sure you have an easy-to-use back up in place and upgrading to OS X 10.7…so you can benefit from the new features of the OS, while making sure your software, peripherals and accessories are compatible.
If you are planning to update to Lion and need further assistance, don't hesitate to email email@example.com
or give us a call at 404-352-6210 for assiatance.