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More Lion: Front Row, PowerPC axed

updated 06:25 pm EST, Sat February 26, 2011

Mac OS X Lion drops Front Row and PowerPC

More discoveries in Mac OS X Lion have shown Apple is cutting out two of its older implementations. The developer preview no longer has Front Row, Apple's early answer to Windows Media Center. It had originally launched in sync with the last Power PC iMac, the iSight-equipped G5 model, and was a staple feature of early Intel-based Macs.

The motivation behind the drop hasn't been specified, if permanent, but likely comes from its reduced demand and usefulness over more than five years. Apple began removing its IR remote as a standard feature in 2009, suggesting a lack of interest. The Apple TV has also reduced some of the incentive to use a Mac as a home theater PC. Unofficially, third-party front ends such as Boxee and Plex have also reduced the incentive to have a dedicated front end.

Along with the Front Row cut is word that Apple has purged all PowerPC app support. It had already dropped PowerPC support at an OS level in Snow Leopard but, until Lion, had still run PowerPC apps through an optional install for the Rosetta code translator. Virtually all of Apple's installed base is now using Intel Macs and has reduced the incentive for the company to support legacy apps. [via 9to5]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Virtually all???

    Although the story is credited to 9to5, their story makes no such assertion about the extent of the use of PPC machines, so where exactly did MacNN get this nonsensical and false piece of fiction? Do you honestly think that everybody simply scrapped their 2.7 Ghz G5 PowerMacs? To suggest that virtually all MacUsers are using Intel Macs is utter rubbish. Please provide the statistics upon which this assertion is based... sorry I forgot that such a request would require journalism skills that are singularly absent from MacNN.

  1. chas_m



    You're about to get schooled, kiddo.

    In point of fact, MacNN is right and you (unsurprisingly) are wrong.

    In October 2010 at the MacBook Air/iLife 11 unveiling, COO Tim Cook stated that since 2006 -- the last year PPC Macs of any kind were sold, and those numbers were dwindling even then -- the userbase worldwide was 20 million. For the sake of argument, let's say every single Mac user IN THE WORLD was on PPC Macs in 2006, even though that is patently untrue (I bought my first Intel Mac in 2006, actually).

    Since then, the Mac userbase is now over 50 million, meaning 30 million new users who (of course) bought Intel Macs. Even presuming that absolutely NOBODY who bought a PPC Mac has switched to Intel in the last five years (hahahahaha), that would mean that the majority of Mac users (60%) are Intel Mac users.

    Now, when you add in REALISM, you'd have to assume that at some point in the last FIVE YEARS, let's say half (probably a LOT more, but for argument's sake let's say half) of that 20M PPC base has also upgraded to an Intel Mac (since that's the only kind that's been available since 2006).

    So the true Intel user base -- at a dead minimum -- is 40M out of 50M worldwide Mac users, or 80%. And of course that number is trending higher each and every day.

    I'm not dumping on PPC Macs or calling them junk. But they ARE old in computer terms (at least five years), and the mechanics of the turnover cycle, plus the enormous number of users Apple has GAINED to Mac OS X since 2006 equals a vast majority of Intel Mac users compared to PPC Mac users. IOW, just because YOU have a PPC Mac and it works great, that's not reflective of the reality outside your mom's basement.

    So in fact, MacNN's assertion is neither nonsensical nor a piece of fiction, and it is YOU, not they, who are pulling unsupported assumptions out of your bunghole. You owe them an apology.

  1. chas_m



    Right then ...

    ... so anyway, now that THAT housefly has been flattened, I do have to say I'd be unsurprised by the loss of Rosetta in Apple, but a little sad to see Front Row go. While I'm sure it was little used, I enjoyed it -- and it was a powerful demonstration of how easy the Mac was to use for people who didn't know about it. Comparing the Apple Remote to the Microsoft Media Centre remote told the whole story: 63 buttons versus 6.

    I doubt I'm still running anything that requires Rosetta, but there might be an odd old game or some such thing, so this news is kind of reminding me of the loss of Classic way back when.

    Change is not always easy, and sometimes not especially welcome -- but in the world of technology, it is as inevitable as the sun rising and setting. People who haven't worked that out by now need to get back in their cave and just ignore the ever-evolving world around them.

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    no rosetta?

    There still are uses for Rosetta. Not a big use by a lot of people, but in my case I still use Office 2004, and it only runs through Rosetta. I don't like the later versions of Office at all, with the new interface, the lack of a Print Preview function (as far as I can tell), etc. That will be really irritating to not be able to use Office 2004 anymore.

    I'm sure there's other software that people still use that was never upgraded to run natively on Intel processors.

  1. Shaktai

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rosetta would be a loss for some

    While I would hate to see Rosetta go away, as I am sure it still has some use for a few people, the reality is that it does eventually become impractical to support older technologies. However while "not supported" it doesn't mean that it won't run with the newer operating systems. We will have to wait and see. It wouldn't surprise me to see some kind of emulators appear even if rosetta goes away. I have been on Intel long enough now that I no longer use any of the older apps that would require Rosetta, even though I have a couple. I can see the inconvenience to some individuals, but if you hang on to the old you can never move forward. I always expect that every few years, I will have to update all my old software, not just for compatibility issues but also in order to take advantage of the latest and greatest technologies. But for me, that is okay. If for some reason I were to find that I "had to have" some older compatibility, then I would just hold on the older operating system. Sooner or later though, we the consumers and Apple (along with all system and equipment companies) must make hard decisions about what is important. Inevitably, those decisions will be inconvenient or a disappointment for some but for the vast majority the decision will be to "move forward" rather then hang onto the past. such is life.

  1. darkelf

    Joined: Dec 1969



    tanj damnit, i still prefer photoshop CS.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The five-year mark is the key

    Once a computer has reached the five-year mark, Apple does not have to provide parts (or even service) at all. California (and maybe another state or two) have a seven-year mandate. Knowing that the oldest PowerPC (PowerMac G5) is approaching the five-year mark (August, 2011), dropping PPC code support is only sensible. Those who need to have PPC/Rosetta support can easily scrape off plenty of MacBook Pros, MacBooks, Mac mini, and iMacs to run PPC-code application—as long as they stick with 10.6.n.

    AppleTalk was dropped with 10.6, so dropping PPC/Rosetta is very likely if not imminent.

    It is unreasonable to be a five-year-old car owner and complain about why the 2011 car part wouldn't work on a five-year-old clunker.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All I asked for...

    All I asked for were the facts supporting this assertion. Significantly, they were provided by Chas_M and not by MacNN. My point is a journalistic one that you simply can't pull things out of the air. Chas_M has proved that it's not difficult to support your assertions! Fair enough! A bit more manners would be nice though.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Uhm... hello? Reality check, anyone?

    No-one here seems to keep in mind that it's a friggin' DEVELOPER PREVIEW we are talking about here. It's not even a Beta yet. People keep talking about this Lion Preview as if it's a shipping product.

    So there's no Rosetta Support in this preview, nor is there any FrontRow. So what? It doesn't come with a pretty printed cardboard box either, because it's *not finished*. Apple could just as well have left these parts out because they were too buggy even for a dev preview. Granted, knowing Apple it seems more likely they axe Rosetta altogether, but still: it's a preview, it's not feature-complete, and things WILL change on its way to release.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Old games!

    Yes, the demise of Rosetta following the demise of classic support certainly cuts OSX completely from history, and a few good games. If anyone else was a fan of some fine Pro-Pinball simulations, they will know that they have all been thoroughly consigned to the past. They are a good enough reason to hang onto a retro old iMac, if you have the spare space.

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