Catalina is an IED

Why isn’t anybody talking about the fact that Catalina will not run half the software on a typical computer?

That got discussed in depth when Catalina was released.


Because it’s an old topic that was covered pretty thoroughly last year. Because there’s nothing significant that has changed about that. And because it’s not even true anymore—if it ever really was.

When I moved from my old 2009 17-inch MBP to a new 2019 16-inch MBP late last year, there were very few apps that I had to replace. The biggest one was Adobe Creative Suite—I’ve been resisting moving to Creative Cloud for a long time, because I don’t like subscription-only software, but CS 6 is only 32-bit. MS Office needed an upgrade because I was running Office 2011 (and that only because there is no good alternative to Excel). I was still running a 32-bit version of BBEdit. Also an out-of-date version of Moneydance. Those were the major ones. And those were all cases where I simply hadn’t kept up with paid upgrades because I was running a ten-year-old MBP on Sierra and didn’t really need the upgrades at that point.

Out of nearly 300 apps installed in the Applications folder on my old MBP (counting Adobe Creative Suite as only one for simplicity), a grand total of 45 were 32-bit versions—so right off the bat, less than one-sixth of my software was affected at all. Of those 45, 25 had 64-bit updates or paid upgrades available that I simply hadn’t bothered with yet.

So 20 out of 300 apps were incompatible and did not have compatible upgrades—roughly 6.67%—back in December 2019. Most of those twenty were old games that I don’t play often anyway (I do most of my game-playing on my iPad or my phone now). Of the others, maybe three got used more than once a year, and only one of them have I still not found a satisfactory replacement for (and I’ve actually been looking for one for several years, because the app was discontinued a long time ago, and I’ve been lucky that it still worked at all).

Yes, I spent a few hundred dollars on the upgrades I needed. It’s an expected cost of having a computer; I had simply been fortunate enough to be able to put it off until it wasn’t a financial hardship (software upgrades were budgeted into my planned expenditure on the new MBP). You buy upgrades, make do with legacy versions, find alternatives, or do without. That’s reality.

I know there’s a sizable chunk of vertical-market and niche software that didn’t have 64-bit versions available when Catalina was released and probably still don’t, but that’s a relatively small percentage of installations, and they’re definitely not things that would be found “on a typical computer”. Unless one is dependent upon legacy software (for example, I’ve heard reports of problems for people trying to move old workflows out of Office 2011, because Microsoft can’t release a new version of anything without breaking things that didn’t need changed), most users have little reason to worry about incompatible 32-bit apps on Catalina.


Catalina is a massive PITA. I have to recompile tons of my Linux stuff from source just so it will continue to run but since Apple is also constantly screwing around with dev tools like gcc that’s not getting easier either. Wine is busted — there’s wine64 but that will not run Win32 apps because Apple just tore out too much legacy stuff. Now my autoconf/automake also broke and I can’t recompile from scratch because Apple’s gcc (which isn’t gcc) doesn’t work and proper gcc is giving me a ton of unrelated errors because paths have been screwed up. Homebrew offers some stuff, but lots of goodies (like real gnuplot that still has x11 plotting) is a no-go and needs to be recompiled from source. I’ve been at it for days now, and honestly, had I known how bad it was going to be, I probably would not have bought a new Mac. It’s as if Apple is trying to tell professionals to get the hell off the Mac and go buy a PC with Linux. Argh. :angry:

I’m curious as to what your essential outdated app is :slight_smile:

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Check out Crossover. It looks like they’ve fixed the Win32 problem. I think.

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How about the whole Office Suite which goes belly up and requires one to but Office 365 and pay a monthly fee. This is where everyone is trying to go by making software obsolete. There are also many utilities and several FREE but functional programs that satisfy the needs of regular people who are not power users or inveterate gamers. Not to mention the stealth with which Catalina was released. Where is the list of those programs which would be affected or upgraded or not or whatever. One would need to spend hours trying to figure out what would crash. I have better things to do. I can also add that I am tired of being told this is an old subject. It is not old to those who are just considering buying new hardware. It is also cavalier that some responses admit that 30-40% of software will not run or it will only cost a few hundred to make things right, but, not a problem. Sorry. A little frustrated with the arrogance.

FWIW, Microsoft still sells non-subscription one-time purchase versions of Office suites and applications. They don’t make them easy to find, but they are still sold that way.

There’s a list on your computer:

Or an app that will tell you:

More info:

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The version of Office that won’t work on Catalina is Office 2011. Hard to get too worked up that.

If you don’t like Office 365, don’t use Office.

If you must have Office, you can buy Microsoft’s apps individually, but I doubt it’ll be much cheaper than a personal Office 365 subscription.

Stealth? Stealth? Ahahahaahahahahaa…

In what world is months of coverage by every Apple-related site and podcast during the beta period and months before and after the release considered “stealth”?

No offense, but are you familiar with the meaning of words?

We discussed them months ago. Just because you weren’t paying attention doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Or you could just use one of the apps that will tell you which of your installed apps won’t work under Catalina.


And, I guess, you think you’re somehow different than the rest of us? Who you seem to imagine weren’t inconvenienced by this at all, but somehow affects you more acutely? Because you’re so very busy, as opposed to the rest of us, presumably?

It is an old subject. Objectively. Just because you now find it relevant doesn’t change that.

I recently watched Rise of the Skywalker but if I were to go online and ask why no one is talking about it, would you expect anyone to take me seriously? Even if I said “But I just saw the movie!”?

Now imagine if I tried to claim that the release of the movie was “stealthy”.

The laughter would be deafening, don’t you think?

As opposed to the notion that we all ought to be up in arms and revisit a topic from a year ago because you now find it relevant… which obvïously isn’t arrogant at all.


Finally, and most importantly… Comparing a software release that is personally inconvenient (even potentially expensive) to a device that kills or leaves victims with lifelong injuries is offensive, arrogant, overwrought, and just plain stupid. Take a deep breath.


Sorry, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. In case you were unable to find the search box for the site, it’s prominently located to the right of the masthead and works just fine. It will enable you to access the many articles, threads and posts that already addressed the issues you mentioned. If you don’t like the many answers that are already here, check out Google or another search engine; they are easy to use and quickly deliver results.

BTW, I’ve been a member of this list since day one, and TidBITS Talkers have always been extremely generous with their time, energy and expertise. And members tend to have any combination of families, day jobs, friends, hobbies, entertainment, educational and health and fitness interests, as well as one or more volunteer pursuits beyond this one.

You can always pay for an ad on Craig’s List, UpWork, Mechanical Turk and hire a freelancer, but you probably will not find one that will work for less than minimum wage.

This is really an annoying trend. Software gets deliberately made obsolete or left unsupported and then folks are forced to update/sidegrade, only to find out that often it’s now subscription-only and/or you now also have to upgrade something else for it to work. Rinse, wash, repeat. Haha. Sucker. You’re on the hook now. And don’t you dare complain about this. This is the brave new world order and it’s for your best. Resistance is futile. Submit you luddite.

In this debate I routinely encounter what I refer to it as Schrödinger’s poster. This person is somebody who at the same time is both of the opinion that a) nothing has changed and it’s always been like this and b) these changes are only for the better. Now this fellow would actually be a funny guy to chat with, except for the fact that if you dare stick to your observations or indeed dare to speak up about a shortcoming (noooooo, we can’t have that), they tend to become somewhat unpleasant. Maybe it’s due to the duality of their nature? Who knows? The quantum world is odd.

Yes, you can buy them individually, but you can also purchase Office Home & Business 2019 Suite with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook for $250. See

While I don’t use Micro$oft products, I did the comparison on a piece of software where the vendor is doing the same thing as M$. I’ve bought this software for years so I get an “Upgrade” price when the new version is released. I forecast out a few of years and determined that while the subscription price is lower the first year, over time buying the standalone version and upgrading to newer versions results in a savings, usually starting the second year of the subscription. Subscription software is greed driven.

Howard Oakley has a good summary of the remaining issues with Catalina after the latest update.

I took the jump and upgraded my machines back in February. I am normally an early updater, so this does reflect concerns on my part. I use Apple Mail, but I didn’t notice any of the problems other people have noted. I had made sure that all significant 32-bit applications were upgraded to 64-bit before upgrading. What remained at 32-bit were applications I hadn’t accessed in a long time and ancient games that were no longer supported. I was sad to lose them, but I have found replacements for the ones I still might want to access.

I did note one minor apparent change with Apple Mail that affected me. I have created several Smart Mailboxes and have noticed that they often do not update in the background. I need to open a mailbox (any mailbox) to force an update. For example, the mailbox I track (named Unprocessed) is a collection of unread and specially flagged email from all my mailboxes). However, it often does not show the latest messages until I open another mailbox and then return to it,

The other issue was that the first run of Time Machine on both my computers was pretty disastrous It took forever and failed on both machines. On my MacBookPro, it eventually ran but moved the oldest saved data forward by 6 months or so. On my iMac, it was not able to save anything, so I recreated the TM, and the base point is now the date that it was first run on Catalina. One small point that seems related to that is that when I restart the system, the icon presented for the TM drive is generic rather than the specific green icon. However, after the first TM run after the restart, it changes.

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I don’t think that’s true. I believe there’s very many really talented engineers at Apple that would love to do just that. And every once a while they’re allowed to shine and we’re reminded of what great things emerge when people are allowed and empowered to focus on what really matters.

I do believe, however, that Apple leadership has lost user experience and product quality as the number one priority. It has been replaced by trying to maximize shareholder value or market share or a myriad of other business benchmarks that run 100% contrary to the Steve credo that if you make a truly great product, sales and revenue and glory and all that jazz will follow.

I hope that with a change in Apple leadership (still a solid bunch of old white guys, increasingly due for retirement) we will see a return to focus on product, specifically on great computers (hardware and software!), as opposed to attempting to make up for lackluster product effort by selectively trying to be a rap music radio station, a rom-com movie / home story TV show studio, or a “services company” (next time I hear that one I’ll vomit). In each one of those departments Apple has ample competition that’s better at it than they have ever been. They should strive to return to focusing on what they did better than everybody else.

Simon, I believe you have described Apple’s current path very well. I’m hoping with the departure of Jony Ive we’ll be seeing the first glimmers of the leadership starting to “Think Different”. The “Borg” was in reference to “Resistance is futile”.

Llamagraphics’ Life Balance calendar/todo/planner app. I had to stop using it as my primary when iOS went 64-bit only, because the iOS app was 32-bit, but I continued to use the macOS app until Catalina broke that too. I’ve cobbled together a workable solution with a combination of other apps, but I have yet to find anything that really recreates the flexibility of Life Balance’s task-priority algorithms.

Maybe if you framed your inquiry here in terms of “I’m considering buying new hardware, but I’m concerned that software compatibility in Catalina may still be an issue”, instead of “why isn’t anyone still talking about this?”, you might get answers more suitable to your needs.

No one’s talking about it unprompted because it is an old subject. If it’s currently relevant for you, say so. Then we know why you’re asking about an old subject. We’re not mind readers; all we know about your question is what you actually say to us.

(You might note that since you did post a question about it, we’re talking about it again. That frequently brings otherwise old topics back into active discussion.)

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I’m not sure what you want from Apple here. This is hardly new. Apple, unlike Microsoft, gets rid of old bloat and cruft.

I think you’re confusing two issues. Apple periodically obsoletes old software. It has been doing so since the transition between the Lisa and the Mac. Companies often don’t give free upgrades when Apple does this, that’s true. Sometimes they do indeed seem to take advantage of this fact to introduce a new pricing model. I certainly don’t like the move to subscription software either (though apparently, some who use high-end software like the Adobe Suite do like it, because it saves them money overall). But there’s a simple solution to this problem: Don’t buy their software, and move to a competitor. If there are no competitors, perhaps we should get together and create one!

Still, this isn’t Apple’s fault. We don’t want macOS to become Windows, stuffed with cruft and bloat.