Mac OS X 10.10: Will You Be Able to Run It?

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This years WWDC should see an announcement regarding the next version of Mac OS X, but will you be able to run it?

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Back in mid 2012, shortly after the release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, I began speculating about what Mac OS X 10.9 would require, or if indeed Apple would increase the requirements at all (see Which Macs Might OS X 10.9 Leave Behind).

I came to the conclusion there was no clear cutoff line and thought Apple would leave the requirements the same as Mountain Lion. I was correct. However, the biggest surprise was that Apple didn’t charge for it, offering it as a free upgrade to anyone running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later.

Fast forward 12 months, and the rumour mill for the successor to Mavericks is ramping up, which should be announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

Name

Apple switched from its cat naming scheme used in all versions of OS X previous to 10.9 to place names in California with the release of Mavericks, a surfing location. OS X 10.10 is rumoured to be called Syrah, a type of red grape grown in specific regions, one of which is in California.

However, even the numbering scheme is debated. Will they jump to 10.10, which seems the most obvious choice? Could they move to OS X 10.X?. Originally Mac OS X stood for Mac OS 10, but the numbering seemed to have fallen by the wayside in favour of the naming scheme, so perhaps they could drop numbering altogether.

On a side note, with Mountain Lion, Apple silently dropped the Mac from Mac OS X, simply calling it OS X.

Will You Be Able to Run It?

Will Apple increase the requirements for OS X 10.10? If they do, is there a clear cutoff path? Let’s look at what possibilities this could create.

Processor

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was the first Intel only version of OS X. OS X 10.7 Lion was Core 2 Duo only, leaving behind Core Duo/Core Solo Macs, all introduced during 2006. OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and 10.9 Mavericks increased that to a 64-bit kernel and a Mac with 64-bit EFI.

Could version 10.10 drop all Core 2 Duo processors altogether and require an i5 or higher? This would mean the following Macs would be the minimum:

However, no MacBook was made with an i5 processor, which would cut that range out altogether.

There were no Mac Pros with i5 processors. They all feature Xeon processors, so I am not sure where they would sit with this theory, but Apple surely wouldn’t cut their high end machine – even the new 2013 Mac Pro has Xeon chips.

So it may be i5 and Xeon chips are supported.

Video RAM

Mountain Lion and Mavericks increased the video requirements, needing 256 MB – with the exception of some 2007 iMac 20” and Early 2009 Mini models, which only have 128 MB video memory.

With each release of OS X becoming heavier graphically, an increase in video memory could be possible to ensure smooth delivery. Could they raise that requirement to 512MB video RAM. This would mean the following Macs would be the lowest:

However, no MacBook was made with 512 MB video RAM, so once again this would cut out the entire MacBook range.

RAM

Mountain Lion and Mavericks requires 2 GB of RAM, but really comes in to its own with 4 GB or more installed. Perhaps OS X 10.10 will require 4 GB. The move to 64-bit architecture and operating systems has enabled 4 GB and higher RAM support, and even now 4 GB is considered the minimum for optimum running.

Of all the changes Apple could put in place, upping to 4 GB is one of the most likely. This would make the following Macs the minimum:

RAM Type

With larger RAM requirements, new RAM standards are adopted. Would a shift to DDR3 – over DDR2 – and a faster system bus be a cut off point? DDR2 is available as 4 GB but is harder to find and a lot more expensive, especially the smaller laptop modules.

Moving to DDR3 only would mean these Macs are the minimum:

Drive

While the latest buzz in the computer world is SSD drives replacing standard hard drives, there is no way Apple will make their new OS for SSD only, as they were still selling Macs in 2013 with regular drives. If they were to cut regular drives, these would be the minimum supported:

Combined

If we combine all the above minimum requirements – excluding SSD/Flash drives – then OS X 10.10 could require an i5, 4GB DDR3 RAM and 512MB video RAM, which means these machines would be the minimum to support it:

  • iMac, Late 2009
  • Mac mini, Late 2012
  • MacBook Air Mid 2012
  • MacBook Pro Mid 2010
  • 2009 Mac Pro

It would mean saying good-bye to the MacBook range, which Apple stopped producing in 2010.

Change of Pace

After an aggressive few years and annoying a lot of loyal Apple fans with huge requirement hikes, Apple sat still for a while with Mavericks, making it run on anything Mountain Lion would. This made a lot of people – myself included – very happy.

With this in mind, would cutting out some 2012 Macs be a wise move for Apple. When Mavericks was released, the oldest Mac to support it was the then 6 year old Mid 2007 iMac. Would Apple now turn around and squash that long support?

Pulling that support to five years with the oldest being the Late 2009 iMac and the newest being the Late 2012 Mac mini at just 2 years old would cut out over 40 Mac models. Two years for a premium, high-priced product is not what people want to see.

New Design

There have been a lot of rumours that Apple will bring a flatter design to OS X, bringing it in line with iOS 7′s more colourful look. Danny Giebe put together some concept shots on Dribbble earlier this morning, merging Mavericks with an iOS 7 style look. It has already caused quite a stir in the Mac world. I have mixed feelings about this.

Personal Hopes

In a bid to keep as many people running the latest version and to win over even more switchers, I hope Apple repeat what they did with Mavericks and keep the requirements for 10.10 the same. If not, only increasing the RAM requirements from 2 GB to 4 GB.

Of course they can’t keep this up forever and will need to increase requirements at some point.

My 2009 MacBook is sitting on the edge of support. I was dubious whether it would get Mountain Lion, but it did. With Apple not increasing requirements for Mavericks, it meant my MacBook got yet another version, but will it see any more?

It shipped with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and has now received five version of OS X, which can’t be grumbled at.

Wait and See

In true Apple style, there is little known about this new version of OS X. We will have to wait until the Worldwide Developers Conference in June for more information, with an expected release date of September.


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12 thoughts on “Mac OS X 10.10: Will You Be Able to Run It?

  1. I am still waiting for Apple to fix Mavericks so that my external hard drives can go to sleep with the computer, So I will not be upgrading anytime soon, Apple has t fix their current stuff before I consider their new stuff.

  2. When talking about generations of intel processors, it’s probably better to talk about the core generations (sandy bridge, haswell etc) rather than product line (i5, pentium, xeon etc). The generations are used across the different lines, so there are i5s and xeons that use the same architecture generation (ex i5 & xeon sadny bridge chips).

  3. What’s with all the scaremongering? Support for older models has been dropped in the past due to technical limitations, not some aribitrary choice like dropping core 2 or mechanical hard drives. Tell us the technical reasons why certain hardware might be dropped and you might have something interesting to discuss.

    • No scaremongering here, just speculation as to what Apple may set as the lower limit for OS X 10.10. I’m hoping it will be like OS X 10.3 or 10.4, where very few Macs supported by the previous version were left behind. 10.9 Mavericks is the highwater mark for that kind of support!

  4. One recent Apple requirement was GPU coprocessing I think. This, for a while after Mavericks came out, disabled iMovie operation on my Early 2008 Mac Pro. Even while iMovie would not run on my Early 2008 Mac pro it still worked on my wife’s 2011 Mac Mini and my son’s 2010 Macbook Air.
    Is GPU coprocessing a possible next capabilities requirement?

    • Well, I seem to have messed up the link tag. The first sentence was supposed to end ‘…from 8000 to 300-series will end.’, which was also the part that was supposed to be the link, not the rest of the message…

  5. Surely it will not be called OS X 10.10, will it? As far as computers are concerned, version 10.10 is the same as version 10.1. Why is this important? Because a lot of installer packages, and applications when they launch, check for the version of the operating system before they run (to make sure a minimum OS requirement is met). Even though OS X was an entirely new OS when it was first released in 2001, Apple kept the numbering scheme going from OS 9.x, due to the fact that Carbon apps could run on both the classic Mac OS (with CarbonLib installed) and OS X. The same version checking system is in place today.

    Now, I could see Apple publicly calling the new OS version 10.10 in promotional materials, but under the hood it will have to be OS X 10.11…or something other than 10.10.

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