Snow Leopards dirty little secret – 64-bit software limited.

After hearing about all the wonderful 64-bit goodness of Snow Leopard (promoted by Apple), many of us Mac owners naturally expected to be able to take advantage of a...

SnowLeopard 32bit

After hearing about all the wonderful 64-bit goodness of Snow Leopard (promoted by Apple), many of us Mac owners naturally expected to be able to take advantage of a 64-bit kernel and 64-bit applications. The truth of the matter is that most Mac owners in fact won’t be able to.

Despite having a Aluminium Macbook with a 64-bit capable processor, that happily runs Win7 64-bit, Apple have implemented a software restriction on which Mac’s can and can’t run Snow Leopard in 64-bit. That’s right, you can hold down ‘6’ and ‘4’ all you like on startup, but it won’t make a lick of difference.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Only the most recent models of Mac will be able to run 64-bit, but even then it’s likely to be off by default. So if you’re experiencing a performance increase after installing Snow Leopard, you’re receiving little more than code optimization, not the benefits of a 64-bit Operating System.

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Here is a quote from the Apple website about Snow Leopard 64-capabilities:

Nearly all system applications — including the Finder, Mail, Safari, iCal, and iChat — are now built with 64-bit code. So not only are they able to take full advantage of all the memory in your Mac, but the move to 64-bit applications also boosts overall performance.

Without a 64-kernel, apps can only run in 32-bit mode, making the above information essentially irrelevant to the majority of mac owners.

In comparison, let’s take a look at the situation on the Windows side. Later this year Windows 7 will ship and many consumers will be upgrading their systems. The crux of it is, if you’ve got a machine purchased in the past, let’s say 3 years, your almost guaranteed the Intel or AMD processor inside is 64-capable and could happily choose to install 64-bit.

All I’m asking for is simply this same choice on the Mac side. If I’m aware there may be consequences like application compatibility issues, I should have the choice to do so. Especially when I know the hardware is capable of doing so!

Snow Leopard 64-bit check

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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