Mountain Lion Leaves More Macs Behind

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With the release of each new version of OS X more Mac models get left behind, and that’s no different with the upcoming launch of OS X Mountain Lion due some time this summer. The cut off for compatible systems stretches back to 2007, but leaves machines like the original MacBook Air off the list.

More MacBooks left in OS X's dustMore MacBooks left in OS X’s digital dust

The cut off for compatible Mac models includes:

  • iMac (mid 2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

That means along with the original MacBook Air, the original Mac Pro won’t be able to run Mountain Lion. Other Macs such as pre-unibody polycarbonite MacBooks and early Xserve aren’t Mountain Lion-compatible, either.

The pre-unibody MacBook from early and mid 2009, however, gets a reprieve since it include an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card which will support Mountain Lion.

Dropping support for older Macs isn’t anything new, but it still stings a little for users that aren’t ready to upgrade from their trusty old iMacs and MacBooks yet.

[Thanks to TUAW for the heads up.]

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Safe! My 2009 MBP slides in!

I’m actually a little surprised it just barely makes the cut. It still feels new to me, especially after I maxed out the RAM.

Then again, I haven’t even upgraded to Lion yet. Maybe it would be more taxing.


The problem is Macs are so well built they can remain workhorses for 10 years or more. (I just put down my 1997 Gigabit G-4 last month when the power supply finally quit) If Apple would just build Macs with cheaper components that turn them into junk in two or three years there wouldn’t be so many legacy machines to leave behind. The good news, these machines remain very productive with Lion and Snow Leopard (and even Leopard). I guess we will just have to suffer with all this misplaced quality.


My MacBook is over four years old now so I suppose this isn’t so unexpected. I’m planning on getting a MBA when it its next updated. Hopefully that is in time for SLion.

Eureka. My comment posted!

Lee Dronick

My iMac makes the cut, it is an early 2008.

Pat Mahon

Wait, are you saying my Macintosh Performa 405 will “NOT” run Mountain Lion?

OMG Apple = FAIL

They just don’t care!

Paul Goodwin

My wife’s 2006 MBP Core Duo didn’t make the cut for Lion, but is going strong with Snow Leopard. In fact, about 6 months ago I put a new 2.5 inch 500 GB 7200 rpm drive in it that replaced the 80 GB 5400 rpm drive, plus added another 1/2 GB of RAM, and it’s running faster than it ever has. The battery is pretty much worn out, but she has an iPad so the MBP never moves.

My concern is what the effect of Apple doing away with MobileMe this summer is going to do. She syncs her iPhone, iPad and MBP mail and calendars thru MobileMe. I don’t know if she’s hosed after that or not.


Obviously, you may continue running an older OS on your Mac. Another option is using Windows (Vista, 7) as an alternative for folks who still wish to utilize their machine another couple of years or so.  That’s one thing that Microsoft has done a fairly descent job: supporting legacy hardware.  I tried Windows 7 on my iMac (2008) and had excellent results. This was just an experiment on my part.  It did work very well, and that was a clean install of the operating system, without running the MacOS whatsoever.  It can be done, and with pretty good results. Of course, your mileage will vary, depending upon how much time or expertise you have in such matters….


Awww heck.  I am writing this on a still very-functional 1.6 gHz G5 “cheese grater”.

Yes it is a bit slow. (Ok it is a lot slow) but still damn functional running Leopard. I hope Apple keeps making great hardware.

I hope to get a new iMac soon and still get a decent price for this thing!

From Alaska


I still have an original mini running leopard. It has worked fairly well, but in the last 6 months it seems to be getting a bit long in the tooth as far as surfing the web.

Even with Camino and 10-4 fox the thing is finally beginning to dog it a bit.

I have to run Bean because Libra Office is just to big and slow now.

Alas that is the way things are. Computers are just a tool and tools get old and wear out. When I bought it, the machine was about as fast as the underpowered windows box I built myself a couple years before. I am pretty impressed with the machines longevity overall and Leopard is still a very nice OS.


While I do not expect Apple to support older hardware ad-infinitum, they are starting to stomp on some of my bragging rights.  I used to brag that with a couple minor upgrades (memory and maybe hard drive) I could put the most current OS on an 8 year old Mac and be fine.  Now it looks like they’re cutting that down to 5 years or less.  So sad.

Pat Mahon

As I type this I am currently in a Twitter DM conversation with someone who is complaining that his old Mac mini will not support Lion or better and therefore can’t carry out the “enforced move” from MobileMe to iCloud (his words not mine).

I pointed out that iCloud is really for Mountain Lion this summer, as that’s when MobileMe goes away, and that is an OS that we know will run for at least one year. So Macs from 2008 will run this up to (and maybe longer than 2013) my question is; is it really that bad that a 5 year old Mac mini can do this when you consider that it is a machine that cost maybe $700 at most?


OTOH, the move is also leaving behind machines that cost well over $2,000 - Mac Pros and MacBook Pros are also on the “will not support” list.

Shortening the lifetimes of older Macs is not a typical Apple thing to do. Useable lifetime of a Mac has long been a strong defense against overpriced arguments.  Is that defense going away? Are IT managers going to be looking at Mac prices and comparing them to other PCs, whose lifetimes are now getting quite comparable?

Again, I do not expect them to support older Macs indefinitely.  But what is the use of spending a lot of cash on a computer whose hardware is traditionally good for 8-10 years when the planned obsolescence is now less than 6 years?

Pat Mahon

@zewazir Neither Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard or even Lion will break when Mountain Lion comes out?

Most Window PCs over the ages of, say 2 years, that IT managers are overseeing, are running a version of Windows that is at least two versions back if not more. Apple are saying you are going to have to go back, at some stage, 5 years before ‘today’s’ OS is not supported.

Paul Goodwin

5 years on a Mac platform is only about 60% of useful life. My last iMac, (2002 G4 Flat Panel) lasted 8 years and the only thing that drove it out was web page complexity…..and the grandkids telling me I needed a new computer so their Club Penguin would run better LOL

Paul Goodwin

While I do not expect Apple to support older hardware ad-infinitum, they are starting to stomp on some of my bragging rights.? I used to brag that with a couple minor upgrades (memory and maybe hard drive) I could put the most current OS on an 8 year old Mac and be fine.? Now it looks like they?re cutting that down to 5 years or less.? So sad.

I agree…



My point is that prior to Mountain Lion, it was not unusual to be able to put the latest OS on a mac up to 8 years old. Yes, Os 10.4, 5 and 6 still run just fine (though 10.4 won’t support some of the newer web technologies). But older OS tend to not run new applications. Back in the summer of 2007, we were scrambling to upgrade everyone to 10.4 to run the new upgrade of PowerSchool, because 10.3 would not support the new features of GradeBook.  But we were able to do so, even on the oldest classroom Macs. Since we were (and still are) in a severe budget crisis, we would have been screwed, blued, and tattooed if we’d had to come up with new Macs for those still running the old 333MHz iMacs.  We had to max out their memory, but they ran 10.4 well enough to get by for that school year.  In 2008 we managed to replace all G3’s, and even most of the 700 MHz eMacs with intel Macs.  This school year is the first year every teacher has an intel Mac as their primary computer, and I am still maintaining two carts of iBook G4s in the elementary schools.

Point being - some people rely on being able to put new OS on older Macs. But it seems Apple is decreasing how long they will support older hardware. I find it problematic because the length of time older hardware used to be supported was a selling point to counter the comparative initial cost of the Macintosh line.

Pat Mahon


What you say is fair but that was a different Apple, and nostalgia is not what it used to be! wink

Paul Goodwin

5 years is very good for the Mini, but my early 2006 Core Duo MacBook Pro was $1800+...and with a 7200 rpm drive and more RAM that I put in, it’ll go quite a bit longer.

The cloud is very clunky when you’re only 1/2 in it with OS 10.6.8


Not the same Apple: that is exactly my point, along with the different Apple comes a whole slew of problems for those of us who (used to) depend on using new OS on (much) older Macs.

Education is and always has been a major part of Apple’s client base.  For goodness sake, at one time they went so far as to make a Mac specifically for the education market: the eMac.  Is this new Apple going to crap on the needs of their old clients just because they are making it big in the personal device market?  That would be sad, both for Apple, and for education.


My macbook just made it its a mid 09 so i think this will be the last osx update for this laptop.

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