Apple may be considering licensing Rosetta to developers whose software might otherwise be left behind in the transition to Lion.
With OS X Lion, Apple will finally leave behind its RISC baggage and ditch Rosetta, the dynamic translator software that allows software written for the PowerPC architecture to run on today’s Intel Macs.
From an end user’s perspective, that shouldn’t make a huge difference for most of us. Most developers have upgraded their software at this point to support x86 architecture. Some companies, though, still use Rosetta for some of their tasks… and come Lion, that software just won’t work.
Intuit — maker of Quicken for Mac 2007 — found themselves in just such a pickle. They did the math and found that it wouldn’t be cost effective to write the program from the ground up without Rosetta. As such, they
have worked closely are trying to work with Apple to bake certain Rosetta libraries right into the latest version of Quicken for Mac, so it’ll be compatible with Lion.
From a Quicken user’s point of view, the bad news is that Intuit’s work in this arena won’t pay off until the end of the summer, if at all, so if you can’t live without Quicken, you won’t want to be an early upgrade to Lion.
That said, it’s good to know that developers could have some option available to them if they just can’t afford to rebuild their software from the ground up: Apple might be able to work with them to provide a solution.
Update: When we wrote this article, we thought the embedded Rosetta libraries were a done deal, as opposed to something Intuit was just pursuing. We apologize for the error, and have amended the article accordingly.