On Mountain Lion’s System Requirements and Consumer Confusion – Updated

The past few versions of Mac OS X have had fairly simple-to-remember key system requirements. If a machine met these key requirements, the other ones (RAM, available hard drive space) were met by default in most cases:

  • Leopard required a 867 Mhz G4 or better
  • Snow Leopard was Intel-only.
  • Lion required a Core2Duo processor or higher

Mountain Lion, due out this month, has slightly more complicated specs:

  • OS X v10.6.8 or later
  • 2GB of memory
  • 8GB of available space

Additionally, these machines are the only ones supported:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

Apple’s thinking here is fairly transparent: consumers are probably more likely to know what model they own than the processor within their computer.

However, the processor information is just a few clicks away in the “About This Mac” window, under the Apple menu.

The model name is hidden behind the “More Info…” button:

Back when Apple sold OS discs in its Stores, we used to have customers come in all the time, wanting a refund after they discovered the OS they had purchased wouldn’t run on their Mac. With the Mac App Store, what sort of recourse is there? Sure, Mountain Lion’s installer checks that it can run, but only after its been downloaded.

I’d love to see the Mac App Store run a check on the system before downloading the Mountain Lion installer, alerting consumers before a purchase if it could not be run on that particular system. Doing so might save a lot of heartache, since Mountain Lion won’t run on as many machines as Lion did.

Update: It seems some people have had the App Store balk at downloading 10.8 betas on machines that don’t meet requirements. Hopefully this continues with the public release.