Is Classic Really, Seriously, Dead?


bootupIt doesn’t seem all that long ago that my boss prohibited me from bringing the Mac OS X beta to work due to its lack of DVD support, or the years that followed when Mac users everywhere decried Quark’s slow progress away from Mac OS 9. Six years after Mac OS X’s debut, the Classic Environment has gone the way of operating systems past, a digital graveyard of bits and bytes. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was forced into the Classic Environment, by way of some antiquated software.

In six years’ time, as our Windows brethren have moved from Windows 98 to ME to XP and now Vista, we’ve seen Mac OS X grow and develop through each of its cat-themed releases. Yet the foundation of Mac OS 9 (Classic) remains an option. Should I need to, I can boot the Classic Environment and open ancient apps. I can open the Control Panels and amuse myself with Platinum Sounds effects, launch Key Caps, or tinker with the Chooser.

But rather than being useful, it’s like walking through a museum. Take a look, for instance, at the bundled Search engines in Sherlock. You won’t find Google or Yahoo! here. Instead, you have second-tier sites like Alta Vista, Excite and Lycos, along with others you probably haven’t heard of in a while:, HotBot, and DirectHit.

Sherlock’s Search Engine Offerings

By now, in the second half of 2007, every technology laggard has either finally released an OS X capable application, abandoned the Mac, or given way to a new, faster-moving competitor. Is there any reason for Classic any more? What’s the likelihood of finding a need to boot into OS 9 for more than misguided nostalgia? Or was Steve Jobs right when he told developers in 2002 it was time to bury the OS, once and for all? (CNET | YouTube Video)


Max Roberts

I don’t think that “Is Classic Dead” is the right question. Its been a long time coming, a very slow journey, but really, you should ask “Is the Macintosh dead?” With Intel chips, a completely different interface, a Unix operating system, and no more Os9, the only similarity with Macs of ten years ago is the Edit menu, cut, copy, paste and clear. I haven’t just bought an Apple Macintosh, I’ve bought an Apple 6, what name should it have?

[Apple I, Apple II, Apple III, Apple Lisa, Apple Macintosh]

Still running my B&W G3 tower though, built like a battleship, it will never break down. Too much legacy software that works perfectly and never crashes, plus I hate today’s bloatware.


I’ve upgraded my G4 iMac this week to 10.4.10 (PPC) so that I can use any software available today. I use the Classic environment for (1) old games that I still love to play (2) old applications that work faster or more stable in Classic than their OSX counterparts (3) because I have been working on a Mac of some description for 20 years (since the MacPlus) and I want to be able to access any document that I have created in that time.

I use a range of game emulators (PCSX, MAME, SMS Plus, Genesis Plus, Power64, etc.) so that I can play any arcade or console game I remember. I use Mac OS emulators (vMac, BasiliskII, SheepShaver) to run systems from 9.0.4 down to 6.0.4 so that I can open legacy programs that will not run in later systems.
NOTE: SheepShaver is difficult to configure, slower and less stable than Classic – but it will work on both PPC and Intel.

I bang my head every month or two when I can’t open my old PC work disks because of the Joliet CD format (I can use an applescript hack, but unstable), and I’m yet to find a solution to opening password protected WinZip files.

My point – I want access to my own intellectual property and it is very frustrating when I can’t open/refer to/reuse something that I created in the past. It’s like mourning a lost treasure.

And if you haven’t experienced this yet, you haven’t lived long or done enough.

hardcore old time gamer

Two reasons:
(1) Master of Orion (original is way better than the sequels, I like to play it while listening to podcasts)
(2) Majesty

I’m not abandoning Classic, even if my main machines all become intels, I’ll still keep a classic box around. Heck, I have an old windows/linux box whose only purpose in life is to play the original Command & Conquer.


I definetly hope that the old versions are dead and buried. Why anyone want to use old systems is something I will never understand, unless you need a program on the old system which the maker never ported to the new system. Then and only then can I understand the usage of an older obsolete system.

Tom von Schwerdtner

HotBot was the jam back when Wired was still hip and cool.

Charles Gaba

I still use Classic once in awhile for exactly two things:

1. When I do Search Engine Optimization, I still use an old SEO program called VSE BeFound. The developers (out of Germany) kept promising an OS X version, but never got around to it and eventually disbanded.

2. Once in awhile I like to play an old D&D-style adventure game called Realmz. No OS X version was ever developed.

Billy K

I moved to all Intel machines (24″ iMac/MacBook) over the last year, but there is one app I still need OS 9 for – Mastering Tools. It’s shareware and the author quit writing for Mac apparently. I have yet to find a replacement, so I bought a cheap 600Mhz Snow iMac for when I absolutely need it.

(I really wish I could find a reasonably easy-to-use audio mastering app for OS X)


(er DTP biz that is)

And I do wonder if there are still schools running those same OS 9 apps they were 5-10 years ago…


Still using Quark 4 here, mate! Can you believe it? (People in the STP biz sure will.)

But that’s the last OS 9 we still use, so hopefully within a year we’ll be 100% switched over to InDesign.


Actually, one of my publishing clients still uses QuarkXPress 5 running in Classic mode, and have a scanner and photoshop station on a G3 running OS 9. They publish 5 national magazines in the UK. They are currently upgrading to InDesign CS 3, but Quark in Classic is still used by over 20 people every day. I look forward to removing Classic when it is no longer needed.


On our increasingly long in the tooth G4 iMac, for a while I would run classic to use Streamline (like Mattshu) which is now no longer needed.

I now have a MacBook which doesn’t have Classic and I don’t miss it one bit.

Hopefully this year we’ll ditch the G4 and move to an Intel iMac or MacMini, leaving Classic totally behind.


Up until CS3 I still booted into classic to run Adobe Streamline. Now that Illustrator’s tracing abilities are better, I likely won’t ever again.

Travis Bell

It’s funny how different people’s uses are.

I have owned a Mac for 5 years (OS 10.2), and not once (NOT A SINGLE TIME) booted into Classic.

Aside from Quark, I can’t even think of a single reason why you ever would have…


Unfortunately, there are lots of educational titles and kids’ games that require Classic. Some of them even mention System 7 in their requirements (these tend not to run well even in Classic, so I stay away from them). Luckily, we now have an Apple retail store nearby which carries a wide enough selection of software that it is possible to find OS X native titles. Still there’s the odd kids’ package on their shelves that would require Classic to run, even though there’s not a machine under their roof capable of running it.


Um, there is no way to play Warcraft II rather than in Classic environment. Yes, yes, I know there’s Warcraft III, I still like this classic game of old ages.


At work, we still have an old G4 that boots up into Classic. The main reason we have it: We print to the Epson RIP software. In the past it was impossible without the RIP to print EPS files. But, today, that is not an issue. However, printing without the Epson RIP gives us inaccurate colors. I’ve tried other color settings without the RIP and still the colors aren’t close to matching. We also have an old Epson Stylus 3000 printer that uses an older type of ink.

If anyone has a better solution using OSX with or without a newer RIP solution, I’m all ears… I just haven’t found any that don’t cost a fortune.

Ryan Stone

It’s really sad. My work still boots Classic on a daily basis. I work for a paper in a small town near Charleston, SC. We still lack a website and forget to upgrade to new OS’s. I bring my Macbook into work with my own updated software because running Classic maybe “fun” but not productive.


The last few times I have tried to run Classic it crashed faster than Windows 95. The last time I tried it was to play Riven which would run for a few minutes and then drag the whole Classic environment down with it. Before that I wanted to play around with an old audio app called MixMan but it wouldn’t work. If it wasn’t so tiny I think I would have deleted my Classic System Folder years ago.


I miss it, a little. But give up my Intel MBP to get it back – ? Never! :)


Considering none of the Macs that Apple currently sells will run Classic… yes I’d say that it is really, seriously, dead.


The only uses I have for Classic now are to open v6 Quark docs in v5 to convert to v4 for use in InDesign and to check the occasional font in Fontographer.

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