back to article Chrome sends old Macs on permanent Safari: Browser bricks itself

Apple fans who still run macOS Mavericks and earlier on their computers won't be able to run Google's Chrome browser any more. Reg readers tell us that their copies of Chrome have automatically updated to a version of the browser that requires macOS 10.10 (aka Yosemite), meaning anyone running 10.9 Mavericks and below can no …

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  1. ratfox Silver badge

    One in twenty users?

    According to StatCounter, 3.4% of Macs still run Mavericks, and 1.6% are even on Snow Leopard (link).

    Then again, StatCounter data has been known to be highly questionable. For instance, they claim Google owns 66% of the search engine market share in Korea (link), and that's... dubious... to say the least.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speaking of outdated kit

      > Speaking of outdated kit: ...anything likely older than a Pentium 4 from the year 2000.

      New Pentium III were released as late as 2003!

      And Pentium 3 was sold as long as their failed Pentium 4, there wasn't even a Pentium 4 non-desktop CPU. Mobile and server stayed on Pentium III. And the successor of Pentium 4, named Intel M and Intel Core were based on Pentium III as well.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Pentium_III_microprocessors

      1. wolfetone

        Re: Speaking of outdated kit

        "there wasn't even a Pentium 4 non-desktop CPU"

        Times being hard and the sister needing a new laptop, my Dad went out and bout a Toshiba one from PC World back in 2003/2004. It came with a Pentium 4 D processor.

        You could fry eggs on it, it ran so hot it could've started a fire.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Speaking of outdated kit

          > Toshiba Pentium 4 D - You could fry eggs on it, it ran so hot it could've started a fire.

          No wonder, it's the dual-core Pentium 4 successor, based on Pentium 4. There was no mobile CPU version of Pentium D.

          So it was rather insane to put such a hot running CPU inside a notebook. There were those 17" and 19" rather big notebooks with a battery that lasted like 30min. Well Toshiba was a rather shitty notebook maker. With the worst driver support of any company.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Pentium_D_microprocessors

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Speaking of outdated kit

            @AC; "it's the dual-core Pentium 4 successor, based on Pentium 4. There was no mobile CPU version of Pentium D."

            Was there ever a Pentium 4-based mobile processor, full stop? I'd be surprised if there was.

            As I remember- and Wikipedia confirms- Intel's mobile line around that time (the Pentium M) was based on the Pentium III, and it started to get a reputation as a serious choice for those wanting to build a more energy-efficient *desktop* PC.

            That last bit- along with the fact that the Pentium 4's increasingly energy-hungry architecture was a dead-end anyway- probably explains why they used the (Pentium III-derived) Pentium M as the basis of the first-generation Intel Core chips.

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Speaking of outdated kit

        >there wasn't even a Pentium 4 non-desktop CPU

        I had one in an IBM T20. It was unfeasibly slow, I'd start the boot process and head over to the canteen to buy a coffee instead of waiting for it...

        The next machine work gave me was a Dell D620 with a Core 2 Duo, it felt soooo fast!

      3. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: Speaking of outdated kit

        And AMD also only got SSE2 in 2003.

        SSE2 only went mainstream in 2012 (when VS enabled default SSE2).

        Still, even my P4 machines are XP or Win2K. It's not like I would want to put Win7 on them anyway.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: One in twenty users?

      Mine is still on Lion, as that is the last version that supports the hardware... But it spends most of its time in Windows these days, as Windows still gets support.

    3. LucasNorth

      Re: One in twenty users?

      Source for it being dubious?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One in twenty users?

      So apple dumped support after 2 1/2 years.... Nice. Makes my 3 years of support on my Android phone look good...

      https://www.blog.google/products/android-enterprise/android-enterprise-recommended-raising-the-bar-of-excellence-for-enterprise-mobility/

      "Delivery of Android security updates within 90 days of release from Google, for a minimum of three years"

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: One in twenty users?

        Sort of but not exactly. Since 10.9, new versions of the OS are free and can be installed relatively easily. It's not like windows 10; it will actually run pretty much the same. Since they didn't leave any models on 10.9 (everything on 10.9 supports up to 10.11), they supported it for less. I believe they still release security patches for 10.11 because older machines have reached the last supported OS. Incidentally, I'd recommend everyone running less than 10.11 upgrade to it, because it is significantly more stable, and that nobody upgrade from 10.11, especially to 10.13.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: One in twenty users?

          @doubelayer except for those one machines that are no longer compatible with new versions. Mine is on Lion, because that is the last version that it can run, it can't run anything newer... The hardware is still fine, it is just very insecure under OS X. Under Windows 7, it still gets monthly security updates.

      2. s2bu

        Re: One in twenty users?

        @AC,

        I think you're in the wrong thread... This is about Google dropping support for Chrome on an old version of macOS. Apple has nothing to do with this, and this is about desktops/laptops, not phones.

    5. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: One in twenty users?

      Given that Snow Leopard is last Apple OS you can install on many old Macs (newer OSes require specs an old machine does not have) then users either face binning kit (why bother if it still works), keep running Snow Leopard or install a different OS

      Plus, lots of folk like Snow Leopard GUI and do not like changes that came after it

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

    That's still no excuse for forcing an update that disables the product.

    Still, Google have form in this respect. Google Docs on iOS 7 disabled itself without being updated when Google "decided" that iOS 7 was too old (about the time iOS 9 came around, IIRC). Because God forbid a user being happier staying with what works than to try a 5GBish download on rural broadband to install on older hardware (and with the thing with the implicit slow down of older hardware "to preserve the battery"...).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

      "That's still no excuse for forcing an update that disables the product."

      They have an excuse: It's free and not to patch would leave it in vulnerable to security issues.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

      It doesn't matter that its not a spring chicken, we're just talking a browser here, not some RDBMS thats intricately linked to the OS kernel. There is zero reason not to support older versions of OS/X other than they simply can't be bothered and/or the intern they've got looking after their build system doesn't understand the concept of #ifdef.

      1. Malcolm 1

        Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

        Except for the need to maintain the codebase (ifdefs increase complexity dramatically) and to test it - which means mainting an obsolete and unsupported OS.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

          "which means mainting an obsolete and unsupported OS"

          My oh my.

          Aren't we supposed to be nerdy around these parts? There's nothing wrong with dropping support for a little used architecture. There is everything wrong with dropping support and then having software upgrade itself to a version that no longer works because said support has been dropped!

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

            "Aren't we supposed to be nerdy"

            I'll give an example of how to do this better:

            MegaBrowser version 1.23 installed on various machines running the old XyzzyOS. Support for them will soon be dropped as few people use them (I'm sure this was a planned obsolescence, not somebody's Tuesday afternoon whim).

            So the company will push out MegaBrowser 1.24 like normal, however the build for XyzzyOS will no longer have any automatic update functionality and attempts to check for updates will open a dialogue explaining that XyzzyOS is no longer supported, that the software may be insecure because it isn't going to be updated any more, and whatever corporate bull they think might help push users to install the brilliant new Copland OS Enterprise.

            1. coconuthead

              the software may be insecure

              And there you have it—"the software may be insecure". The big browser makers, including Google, Apple and Microsoft are collectively forcing the web in general to abandon insecure practices, particularly bad cipher suites and old versions of SSL. This is happening in the browsers themselves, and also at the OS infrastructure level (certificates, HTTP/2).

              These companies are quite open, in technical talks and blogs, that this is their aim.

              Harsh as it is, I don't want people running old insecure systems online. It's the same principle as forcing old unsafe vehicles off the road. It is bad luck for those individuals but necessary for the greater good.

              If they don't aggressively nuke these installations you will get the situation where you have islands of outdated clients talking to outdated servers and modern clients unable to participate. That was the situation for years with IE6 and then with Flash, and Google, Apple, etc. will be well aware of that pitfall.

              1. boltar Silver badge

                Re: the software may be insecure

                "Harsh as it is, I don't want people running old insecure systems online. It's the same principle as forcing old unsafe vehicles off the road. It is bad luck for those individuals but necessary for the greater good."

                A moronic comparison. An unsafe vehicle may cost lives, an unsafe browser may (in a miniscule number of cases) cost some lost personal data. There's an exponential difference in consequences.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: the software may be insecure

                  not quite.

                  anything old and insecure that is connected to the internet can have an impact on the internet as a whole, since they become prime targets for botnets.

                  taking that view the analogy of the road holds up.

                  1. boltar Silver badge

                    Re: the software may be insecure

                    "taking that view the analogy of the road holds up."

                    Until someone dies from slight networking or DNS lookup delays caused by a botnet then the analogy may hold water - until then its bollocks.

              2. heyrick Silver badge

                Re: the software may be insecure

                "you have islands of outdated clients talking to outdated servers and modern clients unable to participate"

                How is that relevant to open protocols like HTTP? I can fetch a web page in telnet if I feel so inclined.

                Furthermore, why is this an issue? If the client speaks an older protocol (assuming some sort of proprietary protocol as http hasn't changed much and supporting it is just too difficult) then the client doesn't talk to the server any more. To halt all progress because some old stuff remains is every bit as moronic as having a browser update itself to an incompatible version...

        2. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

          "Except for the need to maintain the codebase (ifdefs increase complexity dramatically)"

          Not when its different versions of the same OS. The actual differences will be slight if anything at all.

      2. coconuthead

        Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

        It's doing networking, and Apple have been fairly aggressively tinkering with their networking stacks (yes, plural, there are multiple ones). For example, after Mavericks the entire domain name resolution subsystem was replaced. Apple also sunset insecure stuff like WEP, SMBv1 and old SSL versions before almost anyone else (because they can, and some big player has to).

        I don't know how much of the networking stack Chrome implements for itself, but it's certainly possible there's some API in Yosemite or later they want to use.

        This is before we get to other API changes in the UI etc.

        So, yes, a program of Chrome's size and complexity probably *is* "intricately linked" to the OS, kernel and other supplied components.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

          "It's doing networking, and Apple have been fairly aggressively tinkering with their networking stacks"

          There's something called the sockets API. Its remained unchanged pretty much since the 80s and it hasn't changed on the current version of OS/X so your argument is rubbish. The changes to the networking stacks should - if apple has got it right - be completely invisible to a userspace application.

          1. coconuthead

            80s sockets isn't enough for a modern app

            "There's something called the sockets API. Its remained unchanged pretty much since the 80s..."

            Funny, getaddrinfo() and kqueue()/epoll() weren't there in the 1980s. So if you want IPv6 support and to avoid the well-known performance problems with select(), you have to use more modern code.

            Assuming you have getaddrinfo(), does the implementation and version you have support IDNA? Do you need to do the punycode conversion in your app or is it done for you inside getaddrinfo()?

            Have you ever tried implementing Happy Eyeballs using just getaddrinfo() and BSD sockets? I have, and it's ugly, due in no small part to the lack of async interface in getaddrinfo(). Far easier just to call the complete, transparent, implementation Apple provide... which does not use the BSD API.

            How about access to the system certificate store? Not even thought of in the 1980s.

            DNS discovery? Sure, they could include a complete DNS asynch implementation in Chrome (and, for all I know, do) but there's one written by Apple just waiting.

            They probably implement HTTP using a library but Apple give you that too. Again, not in the BSD API.

            BTW Apple do support most of their networking improvements in the (what they regard as legacy) BSD API, but there are a few things only supported in their own implementation. Once you start trying to support iOS as well, there's no contest: you can't turn on the 4G radio using BSD, so although present it's essentially useless.

            1. david 12 Silver badge

              Re: 80s sockets isn't enough for a modern app

              Also true for Windows and linux -- you have to go outside the Sockets API to do stuff not common on 1970's unix.

              It would be nice if there was support for a set of common standard extenstions to the socket API, but none of the players have ever been interested.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why use Chrome anyway?

    Isn't is a data slurp engine for Google?

    I use Firefox 52.8.1-ESR on my MacBook (bought secondhand btw). Search is via DDG or Startpage or via a VPN when travelling.

    If I have to use Google directly then I fire up Safari.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

      All internetworking machines are metadatabase slurp engines, AC. It matters not a jot what browser or network or processor you use to learn of future ongoing developments whenever human input corrupts to garbage output which encourages SMARTR IntelAIgent Systems to beta flash crash outmoded analogous systems administrations.

      And being thoroughly addicted to the EMPowering Enablement of the Internetworking Metadatabase Slurp Engine Machine has one being led by Remote AI and IT Ventures ...... which is itself a Virtual Machine proving Itself to be Almighty and Disruptively Creative whenever Destructive is Self-Defeating and Unnecessary ie Not in Vested Future Best Interests.

      Of course, to not disagree with all or any of that, one has to be able and/or enabled to realise/see the Infinitely Bigger Picture for Remote Virtual Access to Effective Practical Command and Control Levers with SMARTR Powerful Energy Buttons.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        So we've started downvoting amfm

        This is a sad day for the Register. I generally don't bother to read his (its?) comments but without them this would be a duller place.

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: So we've started downvoting amfm

          I actually thought this post was a bit .. I dont know,. tired and uninspired ? Not up to previous standard ?

          Potentially even comprehensible ? although I stopped trying to parse amfm posts and just read them for the immersion.

          A downvote (wasn't from me) under these circumstances could be an artistic criticism and not something hostile.

          1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

            Re: So we've started downvoting amfm

            I suspect the down votes are just the 'outmoded analogous systems administrations' validating their sense of injury.

          2. cs9

            Re: So we've started downvoting amfm

            Maybe the guy who runs the AMFM bot enlisted an army of downvoting bots to further blur the edges of reality?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

      You can tell it's a data slurp engine. When Google decided the cost of supporting Chrome on Mavericks outweighed the value obtained from slurping, they thought it was perfectly acceptable to just shut off Chrome, trapping people's passwords, bookmarks, history, and certificates.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

      You are correct, Google Chrome contains Spyware named "SwReporter". A tool that scans all your files and uploads a summary incl filename, hashes, etc. to Google servers. The "SwReporter" is a hidden folder on your disc. You cannot deactivate the tool, it only runs when you are not using your notebook/PC and is therefor very hard to trace down. If you delete the tool, it gets reinstalled the next day. It severe drains your battery and shortens your SSD lifetime. Unfortunately news media don't investigate and write about it. So better use a open source Chromium build. (Unfortunatly Firefox after 52 ESR isn't any better, it contains unfriendly behaviour too, and all old addons are nowadays broken) It seems all browsers are sponsored nowadays by the same party, and rather hostile to the users' privacy :(

      source: How to block the hidden Chrome tool that sends filenames to Google

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

        " It seems all browsers are sponsored nowadays by the same party, and rather hostile to the users' privacy :("

        Unfortunately this is the price of free these days. I rather wish GNU would write their own browser because then it really would be free but I guess the manpower required to do so is beyond their resources at the moment.

        1. hmv Bronze badge

          Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

          They have. It's called EMACS.

  4. Detective Emil

    Users can probably rewind to a working version

    I have not tried this, but the following should work:

    1. Disable Chrome autoupdate — Google(!) that phrase to find out how.

    2. Restore a working version of Chrome from a backup.

    That said, those running Mavericks really should update to El Capitain, which is still (just about) receiving security updates from Apple, and supports any hardware that runs Mavericks (provided it has 2GB or more of RAM).

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Users can probably rewind to a working version

      (provided it has 2GB or more of RAM)

      Have you tried running Mavericks on 2GB of RAM? I'm not surprised some people were less than enthused about upgrading and stopped there.

      WTF happened to Snow Leopard?

      1. An nonymous Cowerd

        "Have you tried running Mavericks on 2GB of RAM"

        Yes, I bought a cheap (refurb) 11" MBA quite a while ago (hence with a still working keyboard!)

        it did only come with 2GB RAM & a typical apple undersized SSD

        It works great on Mavericks, the Memory Pressure being always green

        I threw away the tiny apple SSD bar and put a 340GB something from OWC in & performance then tripled, I think the new SSD flash (feels) nearly as fast as RAM, so any swapping isnt noticed. I have MacMinis etc with 16GB RAM running Mojave beta, and the feel of the MBA remains similar to these.

        Dont turn down a cheap, old but still good mac, just on terms of low RAM, unless you need VM's of course.

        I still have 10.6.8 on some machines, old iMacs with 5GB RAM, and it remains a great OS - but I think highly vulnerable nowadays.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: "Have you tried running Mavericks on 2GB of RAM"

          OTOH my iMac crawled until I updated it with 6Gb of RAM (the max) and swapped out the CPU for a Penryn one.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Surely a much better approach from Google would be to throw up an error message that their browser is out of date and the user has to explicitly allow the out of date software to open.

    By stopping the user from using the browser all together you could be locking them out of information they need to be able to access such as their browsing history or saved passwords. And this sort of approach is not likely to make users want to go back to Chrome even if they did update their OS.

  6. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Are you saying it's rubber dog shit?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The OS was released in October of 2013, and hasn't had a major update in almost two years."

    So the obsolescence life of a PC is now 5 years max?

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      No, considering that Apple will provide free OS upgrades. From previous comments, the only machines that can't be upgraded are those with <2GB RAM. When I last looked for a laptop in 2014, I couldn't find anything with less than 4GB of RAM which implies anything below 2GB would have been an old machine already.

    2. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Re: Obsolescence

      AC: "So the obsolescence life of a PC is now 5 years max?"

      Snarky reply: yes, only Macs last longer ;-)

      More serious reply: this is about software, not hardware. My 2010 MBP is running fine on Sierra. My wife's 2010 Lenovo X201 is running Windows 10. I won't say it's running fine, but it's running.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Obsolescence

        The X201 is quite an upgradable machine however. I have one as well with 8GB of RAM and an SSD in it, runs quite speedily for its age. The problem is more that Apple's later kit has the storage and RAM soldered down so you cannot upgrade it. Once a new MacOS comes out that requires more grunt, you quickly end up with an unsupported boat anchor.

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