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Apple prepares macOS users for discontinuation of 32-bit app support (arstechnica.com)
64 points by e1ven on Jan 25, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

I love many things about Mac OS, but one thing that I really truly absolutely love with a passion above all else about Microsoft Windows is that a Win32 executable compiled 17 years ago in XP will still run today on a brand new Windows 10 machine with zero fuss. There's something to be said for not destroying the past in the name of progress. Not everything gets rewritten for the shiny new system framework. Sometimes people make something great and then die.

Windows XP? Even Deus Ex, which is compatible with Windows 95, runs on Windows 10. Note that such compatibility is also dependend on the game developer. If the used undocumented methods or undefined behavior it may not run on more modern OS. Especially games like The Sims have this issue - and ironically, some relative newer AAA games.

Getting backwards compatibility forever doesn't come for free, check out some of the MSDN blogs where they discuss all the hacks they've done over the years to maintain backwards compatibility.

There were a lot of security exploits that were discovered in old long forgotten 32 bit Code.

That’s what emulators are for. Run the old OS in a box so you don’t have to pay for supporting ancient crap in the new OS.

This is a huge crap sandwich if you need to use 32 bit version of pro apps(especially pro audio apps, in my case) to use sometimes expensive plugins that aren't compatible with the 64 bit version of the software, or aren't without expensive upgrades or shim libraries.

Obviously you can work around this for new projects, but it leaves you in the position of needed to keep an old machine or VM around just for opening old project files that would be useless without those plugins. I've talked to multiple people in this situation.

The 64 bit only switch was easy on iOS compared to this. Yes, there's new versions of the applications themselves available, but a whole host of plugins for audio(and i've heard video and photo apps) are going to get left in the dust here leaving people in the lurch.

Glad to see the last of the old 32bit legacy go, of course the good thing is if someone did want to run some ancient software that’s 32bit or even 16bit you can still spin up a VM of a legacy OS that can run those binaries.

I guess nothing lasts forever, sadly perhaps.

You can save a copy of your old boot drive at least, and boot from that to access your projects. FWIW keeping an old machine around is not that outlandish of an idea.

A computer is a universal machine, and it comes with trade offs. If you want something that doesn’t change, don’t change it.

This will be the final death of the Carbon API, since it was never supported for 64-bit.

that was my first thought when I read this - I just didn't think anyone much cared about Carbon anymore - but it will be the last gasp of the traditional Macintosh ecosystem.

About time. There was only 1 generation of Intel macs that didn’t have 64-bit and it is not supported by latest OS anyways.

Would that have been MacBook/iMac/Mac Mini type models?

I have a first-gen Mac Pro (August 2006) and it's 64-bit.

The lower models in the 2006 line used 32-bit processors, including MacBooks, iMacs and Mac Minis, while more expensive models favoured the 64-bit Core 2 Duo processors.

That's not accurate; first generation MacBook Pros used 32-bit Core Duo processors as well, as did almost all the early-2006 models; the exception being the lowest-end Mac Mini, which had a single-core 32-bit Core Solo. 32-vs-64-bit was never used for price differentiation within a lineup; Intel's 64-bit chips just weren't ready in time.

Late-2006 models, including the first-generation Mac Pro, moved from the 32-bit Yonah Core Duo/Core Solo architecture to the 64-bit Conroe Core 2 Duo.

It’s 64bit but unless you installed a modified boot loader it will only boot into 32bit OSX

Yes, based on Core 1 (Yonah) processors.

Why does it matter?

It's not as if there is any real performance penalty of running 32-bit and 64-bit apps concurrently.

Sure there is. You need an entire second copy of every user space library to be resident in DRAM (and on disk)

Why would you need every userspace library in memory? - you'd only have the libraries in use by applications in memory.

Sure but any Mac app that uses AppKit (that is, ~any GUI app) pulls in about 300 MB of executable dependencies at a minimum. More for apps that uses rarer frameworks.

I suspect a majority of 32-bit apps are CarbonLib, which has a smaller footprint, how much smaller, I dont know.

There are real support costs for making it work. I don’t want to pay so you can run apps that belong in a museum.

I guess this is the perfect place to ask: what virtualization platforms run 32-bit OS X (since I guess that's what it was called when it was 32-bit) Really Really Well, and how/where can I learn about how to set everything up perfectly?

I think there are a few options that can boot OS X including VirtualBox (x86), SheepShaver (PPC), and QEMU (both?). The big missing piece for a good user experience is video acceleration. From experience using OS X in VMs for build it's pretty miserable with the software renderer.

Yeah. https://github.com/John-K/qxlGraphics was last updated 3 years ago :(


It is possible to run older MacOS installs in QEMU under MacOS or Linux on a real Mac.

So if you need 32 bit MacOS apps just run an older MacOS in an emulator.

On Windows they shut out 16 bit apps in 64 bit Windows but DOSBOX and Windows 3.1 under DOSBOX solve that via emulation.

Is this the end of iwork 09?

I still have some manuscripts in Pages 09, as Pages 13 never added many of the features. I guess I'll have to look for a new workflow.

Learn word. It's still best in class.

Or LibreOffice. Depending on the type of manuscript, Dryad or celtx.

Of course, I don't know your workflow.

Yikes, Word on macOS is certainly nowhere near best in class. It's a completely buggy heap of trash, as soon as numbered styles, images, or tables of contents become important. On the plus side, Word doesn't crash as much as Excel on macOS does for me. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are far better on macOS than their respective MS apps in my experience.

If I had to use Word for anything except the most simple documents, I'd probably run it in a VM.

Hopefully, that will change in 16.9.0 with Office for Mac sharing a codebase with Office for Windows:


Been beta testing this for quite some time, if anything it’s getting worse. The performance of outlook and word is abysmal, random crashes, high CPU usage under no activity and the list goes on.

Ah, so it will be crashing on both platforms! Excellent.

Is this with Office 2016? Almost sounds like the 2011 version. I'd say it's a resource hog but it doesn't seem particularly buggy.

Better yet, don't upgrade. MacOS upgrades seem to just be getting worse and worse.

I tried word on macos. I recall there were some issues which made it harder. Though, I would like to use it, as Microsoft will support it until the end of time.

I may simply switch to a markdown template. I used to use Pages for book publishing and copying to html, but the books have become less important.

sidenote: Pages indeed creates some of the best html of any Wysiwyg I've looked at.

It's astonishingly good. It's why I'm thinking of markdown as a replacement: I know Markdown converts to html. Other editors - not so much.

It was a lucky accident for me that Pages worked for converting my books to html.

Word is truly dreadful, not just to use but the code it generates in each document is a mess, it’s no wonder there’s so many formatting problems in docx files.

Out of all apps I have I know of four which are 32-bit:

- 3 of them are from my (older?) Brother Printer. - 32-bit kdb+ I use sometime for calculations

I can live without them. :)

Too bad that Apple never made AV Fondation having the same features than QuickTime... How can we add dynamically video codecs to macOS ? How can we extend the support of acquisition devices ? What API can we use to do video editing... How can we support ProRes on Windows in 64 bits ?

I’m curious if they’ll drop support for 32-bit processes in the kernel or just stop shipping fat libraries.

I’m curious what it means for Fat Binaries in general. Methinks this will be the first time in a long while where Apple became a true CPU monoculture on the desktop, previously they straddled 68k, PowerPC, IA-32, and AMD64. It gives Apple an excuse to stop using Fat executables entirely - unless they decide to look at using ARM on laptops...

They aren’t dropping fat binaries. ARM desktops and laptops are on deck. They might make sense next year or in three years or never, but Apple is going to leave that door open. They’ve learned the lesson not to be locked to a single CPU architecture.

IIRC Apple’s bitcode is implemented via extra slices inside a standard fat Mach-O binary so I doubt it’ll disappear. The ability to handle fat headers is definitely not a significant maintenance burden for anyone, Apple or otherwise.

Sadly, it appears this will kill most of the Wine projects on macOS. It's a bummer as I've used it for a couple Windows projects to run on mac.

Good luck with completely removing support to run 32 bit applications and all those 32 bit videogames (which is the vast majority of them). Or any other 32 bit application that won't ever receive updates.

What makes you think Apple cares? Most serious gamers would already be dual-booting Windows if they want to game on a Mac, and most casual gamers presumably wouldn't consider it a dealbreaker to have older games stop working.

> Most serious gamers would already be dual-booting Windows if they want to game on a Mac

I'd say serious gamers already switched from macOS to Linux if they don't want to use Windows to begin with. Simply because you can run DX11 games in Wine on Linux, but not on macOS. Borking 32-bit games would only accelerate this shift.

Gamers who use macOS probably use a console for gaming anyways.

Try running something like VtM Bloodlines on a console. It runs perfectly in Wine on Linux on the other hand. And I suppose it would on macOS, at least until 32-bit support will still be there.

No idea why you're getting downvoted.

Sincerely, A person who uses MacOS and games on a console.

Well for one, I won't be able to just take my work laptop on vacation and have the option to kill time with some FTL or This War of Mine. Not saying that OSX is the best gaming platform out there but it's very convenient to be able to take one light laptop on vacation. In (the rare) case I need work access I can do that. In case I don't, I can chill playing some games. Now it seems that won't be an option anymore :(

If you pick up FTL on the Humble Store you should be able to play it on their website in a web browser.

edit 01: [screenshots]

1) https://screenshots.firefox.com/YJvULhgFlPJKtpD1/www.humbleb...

2) https://screenshots.firefox.com/UMQMitQ4Rm4viSlv/www.humbleb...

edit 02: To play it in a separate tabs as per the scrots just take the key from the purchase page https://www.humblebundle.com/downloads?key=foobarXXXX and apply it to this url like so https://www.humblebundle.com/play/asmjs/ftl_asm/foobarXXXX

As a bonus this allows you to play it on any computer without logging in.

This is kind of why I personally don't take OSX to be a serious platform for wide scale deployment. Companies make long-term investments in purchasing software that works, and they would like for that software to keep working, and don't care about fancy new OS features.

I don't believe Apple is forcing anyone at gunpoint to upgrade their OS. If you want to keep running the software that you bought, you can keep running the OS you bought.

If you want to upgrade your OS, then you need to accept that it will change. This has been the case for all of recorded history.

Apple never has/never will release a Meltdown fix for Yosemite.

Keeping macOS (or any OS, really) not updated, is not really an option... unless you're going to keep your computer airgapped.

You might accept to keep unpatched systems, or manage to use them in an airgapped environment. But for a lot of businesses that deploy fleets of Apple hardware, the problem is going to be much more tricky.

(then again, I can see this being an issue only for internally-developed VB6-style apps, which would take a lot of effort to be updated... commercial software like Adobe CS, or even specialist software is going to be upgrade, if not immediately in 1 or 2 major releases, and Apple backports important security patches)

A company that recognizes business needs has a service program to keep the released branch stable and updated. This has been the case for all of recorded history.

So no more 32-bit games in Wine for macOS users? Another reason to switch to Linux for them.

Asking seriously: are there any 32-bit games so new that they wouldn't run just as well under VirtualBox?

Which is not necessarily a big deal for someone sufficiently technical, but I know my siblings aren't going to be running a different OS in a VM to play games.

Out of curiosity, I just checked on my Mac and I see a few 32-bit apps. Steam (surprisingly?) is 32-bit only, as are a couple of games. The games I actually play on my Mac have 64-bit slices.

I have a lot of games that are 32-bit and which I'm interested in replaying once in a while. Wine can run them, as long as the OS has i386 support. Which isn't a problem on Linux at least, since so far multiarch isn't being dropped.

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