Design insights & tutorials.

Adobe: R.I.P PPC


Mac users out there either have something to celebrate or cry about, depending on how old your Mac is: Adobe announced that they are no longer supporting PowerPC (PPC) processors starting with Creative Suite 5.

On the Creative Suite 4 FAQ Adobe lays it out pretty flatly that older PowerPC Macs will no longer run Adobe software after Creative Suite 4, period. Now before you go jumping down Adobe’s throat, keep in mind that Apple itself is dropping support for PowerPC Macs this fall once OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” is released. Granted, major issues and security updates will be addressed for both OS X and Adobe, but if you want to upgrade to the latest and greatest, you’ll need an Intel machine.

Both Adobe and Apple want to take advantage of everything the Intel chips have to offer, and this includes plans for Adobe to move their Creative Suite code over to “Cocoa” from the existing “Carbon” (basically old OS X programming vs. newer programming).

I’d venture to say that this is not going to be a big issue whatsoever. Anyone running CS4 or even CS3 is most likely also on an Intel-based Mac already. Sure, there might be a few G5 holdouts, but I can tell you from experience that the G4 just did not have the horsepower to run CS3 at any sort of productive level.

And no one is forcing you to upgrade, so you can stay on your PowerPC Mac and use Photoshop CS1. Sure, some people will be ticked off about this, but believe me if you are a Mac user and you aren’t on an Intel machine, you have no idea what you are missing out on.

Personally, I say kudos to Adobe for drawing a line in the sand and giving those who do keep the upgrades current the best possible experience they can using the Creative Suite. If you read between the lines here, what you are hearing Adobe say is that they are committed to the Mac—otherwise they would not be investing the time, money and resources into revamping all their code to the future of OS X. That’s a good sign, fellow Mac designers. A really good sign.

Mac users, sound off in the comments below: are you on PPC? If so, how does this make you feel?

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
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We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Arvin Motion Design

    Fine with me, as you said, anybody who's stuck with a PPC until now clearly has a workflow that they're sticking with no matter what anyway, and that probably involves pre-CS3 software. The newer adobe suites on OSX still lag behind their Windows counterparts and that drives me nuts, hopefully the gap will be even narrower now.

  • mikeshoaf

    Even the newest PPC Macs are a few years old now. By the time CS5 comes out, they will be that much older, so I think it's a very appropriate move.

    Especially when you think about the current state of the economy, Adobe needs to cut expenses because many of their customers are having a harder time to justify the room in the budget for current CS4 upgrades. If they don't have to use any company resources to maintain (and support) PPC code, they can keep focused on the transition to carbon, and hopefully stability issues and the like.

  • William_Beachy

    Everyone may be interested to know that Go Media is running on DELL computers running XP Pro. Also, we're running all CS3.


    Primarily Money. When we got started we were broke. The Apple computers and corresponding software cost much more.

    And then other factors pop up… such as stability and consistency. We have 14 people here. Buying new software isn't as simple as buying 1 license… when we upgrade we need to do it for an entire office. It gets real costly real quick.

    Right now CS3 has been running REAL smooth on XP Pro. That combined with the rough economy… has us standing pat.

  • RussellCory

    Apple shafted all of us PPC users a while back with the QT update that doesn't work with After Effects 6's audio.

    There are a lot of us out there that still use our PPC workhorses because they still work really well. I use an Intel machine at work but my old G4 PPC at home simply won't die. To be forced to discard a fully functioning machine is absurd and very destructive.

    I understand why they want to move onto the new programming architecture but forced obsolescence is always rough.

    The CS5 suite damn well better support 32 bit processing across the software package, and AE had better support more than 3GB of ram otherwise it will still be a giant waste of money.

  • Drew

    “To be forced to discard a fully functioning machine is absurd and very destructive.”

    This is the same line of thinking that has kept internet explorer 6 in the game. Software changes, technology changes, and to say that software companies need to cater to users running out of date hardware is absurd. I bet you hung on to all your old VHS tapes too didnt you?

  • douglasppc

    Done. I am tired of all this shit. I am now using Fedora 11 for PowerPC, and I can be sure that no single company on this planet will ever say: “stop guy, you are no longer supported, we have no interest in you, we can't make more money from you, we want you to force to buy a new machine (with an legacy x86 inside)”. Adobe, GIMP rocks, Inkscape rocks! You'll fail, Adobe, I guarantee it.

  • George Coghill

    I don't want to get into the whole Mac/PC debate here, but I do not ever recall the Adobe software being more expensive whether it was the Mac or the PC version. Then again, I never really had a need to price compare as I have always been a Mac geek…

  • George Coghill

    I agree Mike, and there's no reason why people who don't want to upgrade have to do so. I really doubt anyone who still works on a PPC Mac is considering the CS5 Suite any time soon.

    CS1 on my old G4 ran fine. I just like to be as current as possible to satisfy my nerdishness :)

  • George Coghill

    Agreed, and I am sure than needing to support PPC/Intel took away resources and man-hours from keeping the Mac version as current as it could be. I think this is a great move by Adobe all around, and glad to see it happening.

  • rorym

    Well, I think fair play CS5 is not gonna be out for a while anyway and my old mac couln't even handle CS2 (hence the reason Ive treated myself to a spanking brand new iMac) so Adobe could hardly keep updating their software for older machines, you've gotta move with the times baby!

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    It's absolutely fine with me

  • owenvideo

    I'm not really concerned, but if Apple wants to discontinue service to certain models, they really shouldn't make them last so damn long. :) Seriously, I'm running a five year old PowerMac like it's (almost) new. I just upgrade hardware when needed. It's just hard to justify buying a whole new machine, even if they won't support it my old one.

    But seriously, as far as CS is concerned, Adobe needs to slow it down, these updates are too often, and the changes are ridiculously unnecessary. Most of them could be pushed through in a software update for goodness sake.

  • Jack Franklin

    I'm running on a PowerPC G5 iMac and using CS4 daily and it works fantastic, I can run Ai, Fw, Ps and more all at the same time with very very little delay. CS4 does the job for me and by the time CS5 is out I should be upgraded to an Intel Mac anyway. So I'm not bothered. Even if it means I can't upgrade to CS5 for a year or so because I'm saving up for an INtel one, it does not matter to me at all.

    When will CS5 be out anyway?

  • jglovier

    I would beg to differ as there is a big difference between the planned/forced obsolescence of hardware vs. the planned/forced obsolescence of hardware.

    The big difference is with software – especially a *FREE* software program that you are referring to – the affect of it becoming obsolete and discarded is not quite like that of hardware becoming obsolete. With hardware, there is nobody offering you a free upgrade. Also with hardware you cannot just delete the old remains – there is an impact on the environment and the planet that brings us into a whole other discussion.

  • jglovier

    Apple CS versions don't cost more, but the hardware certainly does.

    I've been in a similar boat to GoMedia – albeit for one person. But when I started business for myself two years ago there was just no way in the world I was going to afford a MAC of corresponding power to the PC I got for $2500 then. If I'd have bought a MAC of similar specs it probably would have cost me a cool 10 G's.

    So now although I'd love to switch to MAC, I've already invested all my resources into PC stuff and a lot of my software would have to be purchased again too if I switched.

    But I know you don't want to get into the MAC/PC discussion, so I'll leave it at that. Although the CS5 discussion does interest me…

  • William_Beachy

    I am probably dating myself here. And I can't speak to Specifics, but back in 1997 when I was setting up my first company (yes, I'm THAT old!) – both the hardware AND the software cost more for a MAC. Now like I said – I can't say for sure it was Adobe products. I had to buy a variety of software to run the company. This included things like the Office suite, Quickbooks, Design software, etc. etc. And I seem to recall that the Mac versions of all the software WAS more expensive. Of course, that was 12 years ago.

  • George Coghill

    FYI, I know Adobe offers a PC <—> Mac 'switch' offer for their software, so one can trade their license for another platform. I've never used it myself though.

    Of course, there's probably lots of other software you have licenses for on the PC that do not offer this… but if Adobe as your main 'switch' issue, then there is a solution to that.

  • Michael Thomas

    What is a Power PC Mac??? These surely could not run CS5 or CS4 even??

    • Ksks

      You are as dumb as you sound.. I have a 2010 mac pro and just recently got a G4 Powerbook Hi-res 1.67 and am very proud of it.. I believe in co-existance between PPC and Intel.. hence, why I own both of them.. so fuck off.

  • George Coghill

    Adobe has addressed the “too many upgrades” issue, and it seems since early versions of Photoshop and continuing up to the present, Adobe software has always been on an 18-month cycle for releases. It sounds wrong, but someone did the checking on a message board (I forget where) and it was accurate.

  • George Coghill

    I skipped from my G4 tower to a MacPro Quad-core, so I never used the G5 line. A friend had base G5 (one of the early ones) and he did not have the same luck as you with CS4 as far as performance. But sounds like you are in a 'sweet spot' with your setup.

  • George Coghill

    See this Macworld price comparison from 2006 between a Mac Pro and a similarly-equipped Dell:

    I the past, Apple always seemed to offer only machines with more power, eschewing the mid- to low-tier machines. With the Mac mini and the iMac that has changed since pack in the PowerPC days.

  • George Coghill

    Also, check eBay — old Mac models retain their resale value quite nicely. I sold my four-year-old G4 in 2008 for $600.

  • RussellCory

    Obsolete code is completely different from obsolete hardware. The code can be easily deleted and it's gone from the earth with no harm. Forcing someone to discard a machine full of harmful chemicals, toxic metals and many other non-recyclable parts is extremely destructive.

    Your excuse that hardware is “out of date” is a misnomer at best. “Out of date” typically is a ploy by a marketing firm to ensure that the next generation of vaguely better product gets sold in droves. With a processor, when it is physically incapable of performing a function is when it's out of date. As of right now the only reason my PPC G4 is incapable of completing a process is because someone doesn't want to write for it. That's it, no other reason.

    And yes I did keep a bunch of my VHS tapes. A LOT of stuff never made the transition to DVD.

    New =/= Better

  • markhoots

    I hear the “wheels o' progress” argument a lot, but I must say, I never experienced the spins, hang-up and crashes on my old G5 that I do on all 4 Intel workstations we sport at work. I am Production Mgr. and keep all (home&work) clean, lean, and networked correctly, so why more screw-ups on the Intel boxes?

  • George Coghill

    Hmm, I find the Intel machines way faster, and never have any hang-ups or crashes. How much RAM is installed on those Intel Macs? I've got 14GB on mine, but I like to run a lot of stuff at once.

  • normomy

    I'm still using (in my home office) a PPC G5 duo 2.0 (5 yrs old now!) and CS4 is running fairly well. I use CS3 on my Dell XP at work – also runs well. But this news is just the kick in the butt I need to switch to an Intel machine at home. At some point I figure I just have to bite the bullet! I think Apple and Adobe have made the logical decision.

  • Matt

    I'm excited because this means that they can spend more man hours developing faster and more powerful software for intel macs.

  • jglovier

    Yeah, that's cool. I actually just found out about that the other day after responding here I called Adobe to find out if what they do if you wanna switch. That's good to know – CS is my prime time. Unfortunately the cost of the hardware is still gonna hold me back for a while.

  • Dave

    I work with 2 different 5 year old G5 PPC's that are awesome, I've hardly had to do anything to them and they still kick teeth! To find that they will no longer be supported is pretty frustrating considering how well they still function.

  • Arvin Motion Design

    There is nothing stopping you from using your current G5's until spiders lay eggs in the DVD drive, and I'm sure you're resourceful enough guys that you can keep doing what you're doing using CS4. If somehow you think that you're going to suddenly be priced out of the business because you can't upgrade to Adobe CS5 then you might not be in the right business to begin with.

  • George Coghill

    Adobe doesn't support older software after a certain time period, and I believe even CS3 is not longer supported save for major bug fixes and such (but I could be wrong here). You'll be in no different situation than you already are with an older Mac and whatever software you are currently running. This drop of PPC support only applies to CS5 and beyond. Are you running CS4? And would you have planned to upgrade to CS5 had you been able to run it on your G5 PPC Mac?

    In my experience, I find that the system requirements pretty much force one to upgrade their machine after a certain period of time anyhow. As I commented above, my G4 was the top model for that end of the line series, and it was not going to run even CS3 on any sort of real-world usable basis, even though *technically* it was supported.

    If you were referring to Apple supporting your G5 PPC's, then that's another issue entirely.

  • George Coghill

    Agreed, his current setup is fine as-is regardless of this news.

  • markhoots

    Pretty much the same RAM in both setups (8GB). Again, with 20 years experience, I don't come to this conclusion quickly (how many years have the Intel boxes been out now?), and I am comparing 'apples to apples' (snicker), in other words, a function for function comparison. No doubt the new machines are faster, but that is in addition to more crashes, particularly InDesign, when pushed hard (big docs, many pages, imports).

  • George Coghill

    Strange, I have an early 2008 Intel Mac Pro w/14GB RAM, running CS4 and no crashes like you mentioned. I've put together a regular 80+ page full color magazine in InD CS4, no probs. In fact, much smoother than CS3 on the same machine, and definitely much better than on my old G4.

    I went from a G4 to Intel, and it has been nothing but satisfying.

  • chicago securities lawyers

    Thanks for the info…It will not affect me much but I can see how some would be irritated.

  • handbags

    With a processor, when it is physically incapable of performing a function is when it's out of date. As of right now the only reason my PPC G4 is incapable of completing a process is because someone doesn't want to write for it.

  • George Coghill

    THat's just how things work. Older cars are harder to find spare parts for, old computers get left behind when they no longer have the oomph to run newer software.

    I will tell you right now that CS4 will not run very fast on a G4. You always have the option to stick with your G4 and CS3.

    Expecting software companies to support outdated computers is not realistic. New software is designed to take advantage of the power and technologies in the newer computers. It's always been that way.

  • Bruce Johnson

    Some of us Mac users just do not have the capital to invest in new computers every other year. I do understand why Adobe cannot continue
    to support multiple platforms though. I guess my CS2 version will have to
    do for a while longer.

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  • Knut Frockenstöter

    Still using my trusty old Quad G5 in 2012, and it does everything I want it to. I love the thing to death, it’s got a built-in BD-burner, 10GB of RAM, 3TB HDs, eSATA and it plays 3D movies with a polarized LG display! VLC 2.x just came out (still has a bug with track switching, but they’re fixing it) and I persuaded some people that port Opensource-projects like mkvtoolnix or the 3D videoplayer Bino to make their stuff available on 10.5.8 PPC, too – I also did a lot of beta-testing and offered up my machine for remote login via Teamviewer! ;-) I have a Core i7 870 with Geforce 460 perfectly capable of running OSX sitting right next to it, but i only start it up about once a month in Ubuntu and maybe Windows every now and then… Boring!.. ;-)