June 2012: Lion to Snow Leopard; Rosetta I Love You.
July 23, 2012 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Can I downgrade a June 2012 Macbook Pro that comes preinstalled with lion to snow leopard?

I need Rosetta/MS Office 2004. I didn't realize how badly I needed it until I upgraded to MS Office 2011 on my new June 2012 Macbook Pro that came preinstalled with Lion.

I am getting mixed messages regarding the possibility of downgrading Lion from this new computer that I've had a mere 34 days to Snow Leopard, where I believe I will be able to continue to use MS Office 2004 (please correct me if I'm wrong). I know people do this on older computers--I am specifically concerned about the likelihood of it working out on this June 2012 Macbook Pro.

Is it possible to downgrade on this new computer or is the hardware somehow incompatible? Is there a tutorial you can point me to to help me downgrade?

Please talk to me like I'm 6 years old, I'm not the tech savviest.
posted by rabidsegue to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

There was a point at which this was possible, in Summer/Fall 2011(when lion was out but it was running on the same hardware as the previous snow leopard machines), but the rule of thumb is that apple never supports putting and older OS on newer hardware, and there has been an upgrade in hardware since then, so you are locked into Lion or newer.

MS office 2011 isn't that bad...you will get used to it- and it is more compatible with the Windows versions.
posted by rockindata at 4:42 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the (awful) info. I'm not going to threadsit but I wanted to add that my problem isn't learning something new, it's that I use a handful of very important templates (macros?) from MS 2004 that keep crashing in 2011.
posted by rabidsegue at 4:48 PM on July 23, 2012

Have you tried Neooffice to avoid the whole OS swap? I am not a big user of Macros, but being as it is free it may be worth trying to see if you can get your macros to work on it and whether you can get on with it generally. I don't find it much different than the jump from 2004 to 2011 for what I use it for (in terms of relearning).
posted by Brockles at 4:54 PM on July 23, 2012

This method of using Parallels to create a Snow Leopard VM inside of Lion looks unwieldy but should do the trick. Install Office 2004 in the Snow Lep VM and you're off to the races.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:54 PM on July 23, 2012

rockindata's right that Apple -- it's hardware drivers -- but you might have a chance to get this working by creating a Snow Leopard VM with Parallels. (That used to be dodgy territory with the EULA, but I think it's been relaxed since Rosetta went away.)
posted by holgate at 4:55 PM on July 23, 2012

Let's finish that thought: "rockindata's right that Apple doesn't provide 'forward compatibility' for older versions of OS X."
posted by holgate at 4:56 PM on July 23, 2012

Another option: do your scripts / macros work in Office 2008? I recall there were less compatibility issues between 2004 & 2008 than 2008 & 2011.

(The MS Updater that comes on 2008 discs won't work; it'll tell you to download a new version from MS. Once updated, I think all the initial problems with 2008 on Intel - mostly related to bits of Communicator & Query being Rosetta-based - are fixed.)
posted by Pinback at 5:38 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you dont want to pay for parallels, VirtualBox is a pretty good virtualization choice. Just my own two cents but I regret the day I "upgraded" to Lion as its a giant POS. If I had the chance to use it before I installed it, going from 10.6 to 10.7 is like taking a perfectly good XP machine and putting Vista on it.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 5:40 PM on July 23, 2012

Response by poster: Two things, to address your interesting points:

does ms 2008 work on lion?

And does boot camp (preloaded) work in place of parallels in what you guys are suggesting?
posted by rabidsegue at 5:42 PM on July 23, 2012

In order to use boot camp it is my understanding that you would have to re-format your hard drive to give yourself a 10.6 partition along side with the 10.7. To do that you will need to back everything up and reinstall 10.6 && 10.7 on different partitions.

Just poking around the internet a little I found these two articles that you might find useful.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 5:53 PM on July 23, 2012

Yup, 2008 works on Lion. As I mentioned, when installed from original discs a couple of ancillary bits are Rosetta-based, but I think (90%, but not 100%, sure) the cumulative updates fix those issues. When you first try to update a clean install of 2008 it'll fail, but prompt you to install the new updater. Do that, install the complete set of updates, then see if it works.

Boot Camp will allow you to boot into Windows, but won't help with booting an older OS X version on newer hardware. If your templates work in Windows versions of Office, then you can either
  1. Boot into Windows & use Office there, or
  2. Install Parallels / VMWare, let it use your Boot Camp partition as an image, and run the Windows version of Office in OS X. VirtualBox will also work for this, but I don't know if it has the ability to use your Boot Camp partition like that.

posted by Pinback at 5:58 PM on July 23, 2012

To be clear: As others have mentioned, you can install earlier versions of OS X within Parallels / VMWare - but that's quite separate from Boot Camp, which is for running Windows on Mac hardware instead of OS X.

Parallels / VMWare can use a "Boot Camp-ed" Windows installation to run Windows programs inside OS X. But the reverse isn't true - if you set up an older version of OS X in Parallels / VMWare, you can't use Boot Camp to boot into that instead of Lion.
posted by Pinback at 6:12 PM on July 23, 2012

Office 2008 does work on Lion. It's the version I use. BUT it's also the version that lacks Visual Basic support, which means your macros might not work in it anyway.


I got around this for a time by using Parallels with a Windows XP virtual machine and installing an old copy of office 2003. Everything seems to work on that.
posted by mariokrat at 7:38 PM on July 23, 2012

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