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Apple Steamroller

February 20, 2012 - Dave Hecei
Apple’s announcement of the next ‘big cat’ OS X seemed to come out of the blue. Apple usually isn’t this good at keeping big secrets. They usually leak out in the rumor sites just before Apple officially makes an announcement, but this time they fooled everyone. The good news is that it should be out this summer (Aug.-Sept.). The bad news is that your Mac might not be able to run it.

Apple has a long history of abandoning ship and jumping into something new, no matter the cost. That is exactly what it will do to you – cost you. If you want to have all the latest toys, latest Apps, and latest OS, then you have to keep buying new hardware.

Here is a case in point. Let’s say you have a nice shinny white polycarbonate 24-inch Intel Core 2 Duo iMac. This Mac was made from 2006 through 2007. If you bought it right at the end, this Mac is at least 4 years old. Now let’s say you just bought a new iPhone 4S. It requires, on the Mac, OS X 10.5.8 or better and iTunes 10.5 or better.

The problem is that your iMac came stock with 10.4 Tiger, iTunes 9, and probably only 1GB of RAM. To use the iPhone 4S you have to get Leopard or Snow Leopard, update you iTunes, and ideally 2GB of RAM. Of course, all these updates are not going to set you back much money, but it will stop you from playing with your new toy right away.

Last year Apple came out with Mac OS X Lion, 10.7. The price of Lion is cheap, less than 30 bucks. To install it you had to get it from the Mac App Store, which is only accessible with a Mac running Snow Leopard. If your Mac could run Lion, which some older Macs could not, and you were running Tiger or Leopard, you had to install Snow Leopard first. To get the most out of Lion you also had to have a top-end graphics system (meaning a newer Mac), a gesture capable track pad, and 2GB or more of RAM.

When Mountain Lion arrives this summer, if your Mac was made before 2009, you might be out of luck. Any iMac built before 2007, original MacBook Airs, and original Mac Pro towers cannot run the Mountain Lion Preview. Included in this list are any Macs that have the GMA 950 and X3100 integrated video systems.

Do you have to buy a new Mac to run Mountain Lion? The better question is, ‘Do you have to run Mountain Lion?’ I have only one of my Macs running Lion, and that is installed on an external drive, the internal drive still has Snow Leopard. Unless there is a new Mac App that you just have to have, there is no real reason that you have to run 10.8. No one will force you to upgrade. But if you must get that iPhone 5 this fall, then you might have to upgrade, again.


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