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.
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!
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