Blocked G4 Upgrade Uproar Continues

1999: Apple has responded to the uproar over the inability of Blue & White Power Mac G3s with certain ROM upgrades to accept G4 processors. The following is from Apple’s Tech Exchange. (Because Apple considers this an off-topic discussion, this page was removed from their site.)

We believe that many of the new and improved features of the Power Mac G4 are an effect of major design changes in the computer. These could not be duplicated by simply upgrading the processor alone. Apple does not endorse third party after-market processor upgrades in any Apple Macintosh computer.

Allegations or rumors that Apple may have intentionally taken measures to disable Power Mac G4 processor upgrades from functioning in a Power Macintosh G3 computer may have come from third party publications and third party web sites. Apple does not own industry publications or third party web sites and therefore cannot be responsible for their content or allegations such as these. Since such content did not originate from Apple Computer, we cannot comment on it. If we have further information on this topic, from an Apple source, we will post it and be able to comment on it. At this time, we have no further information.

Please note that Apple never marketed Power Macintosh G3 computers as being “Power Mac G4 processor upgradable.” Apple does not offer such an upgrade path now, nor have we announced plans for one in the future.

What Does It Mean

Blue and White Power Mac G3There’s a lot of doublespeak here. The first paragraph means Apple believes that all the advantages of the Power Mac G4 derive from major changes in the motherboard, not just the use of a G4 processor.

If this is the case, why is the 400 MHz Power Mac G4 based on the same motherboard (very slightly modified) as the Blue & White G3? Conversely, what benefits does the 400 MHz G4 have over a Blue & White G3 that could not be duplicated with a processor upgrade?

In the second paragraph, Apple does not deny that they may have deliberately disabled G4 upgrades on the Blue & White G3, only that these stories came from sources outside of Apple. Of course, Apple cannot be responsible for the content of “industry publications or third party websites,” but they are only trying to obfuscate the issue.

The simple fact, verified by multiple sources including the manufacturers of the G4 upgrades, is that Blue & White G3s without the version 1.1 or later ROM upgrade work with G4 processor upgrades, while those with version 1.1 and later ROM upgrades do not.

Yet Apple declines to comment on this fact, whether posted on the web, published on paper, or submitted to their Tech Exchange. Instead, they dance around the issue, like the politician saying “no comment” to a question she’d rather not deal with.

In the third paragraph, Apple rightly notes that they never said the Blue & White G3 would accept any kind of processor upgrade, G4 or otherwise. Having been sued over such promises in the past (and losing those lawsuits), we would not expect Apple to promise any type of upgrade that they have not verified before releasing product.

Whether Apple promised such an upgrade or ever plans to make such an upgrade is beside the point, but this is a claim you can expect to hear over and over again from Apple Computer.

PowerPC G4 7400 CPUThe simple fact is that the Blue & White G3 as initially shipped could accept a G4 upgrade, whether Apple explicitly designed it with that capability or not. And many Blue & White G3s were purchased in a state that would allow the use of a G4 upgrade.

Then Apple introduced ROM version 1.1, which somehow prevents these computers from working with any G4 upgrade. Whether this was a deliberate move, as many suspect, or a programming error, this so-called upgrade improved certain capabilities of the Blue & White G3 while removing the ability to boot with a G4 upgrade.

One would think, had this been a programming error, that Apple would have corrected it in a subsequent ROM upgrade. Word of the “G4 block” has been spreading since May 1999. Yet all Apple says is, “We never said it would work with a G4 upgrade.”


Whether deliberate or not, Apple did remove the ability of early Blue & White G3 computers to work with G4 upgrades. That is an indisputable fact.

Further, Apple never informed users that installing this ROM upgrade might disable certain abilities of their computers, only that it would improve some things.

Again, Apple has known since May, when this was first discussed on the web, that the ROM upgrade was suspected of blocking the use of G4 upgrades, yet they neither fixed the problem nor acknowledged it.

Apple Computer can continue to stonewall, trying to talk around the issue, wishing that the Steve Jobs reality distortion field would kick in and the issue would fade into obscurity. But as long as anyone has a Blue & White that once had the ability to accept a G4 upgrade, then lost that capability via ROM upgrade, I don’t expect the issue to fade away.

Of course, Apple could admit to the problem and release a new ROM upgrade that eliminates the block, saving their PR hacks a lot of work, their lawyers a lot of time, and Blue & White G3 owners something to complain about on an otherwise excellent computer.

Further Reading

Keywords: #g4upgrade #g4block