This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-08-31 at 1:45 p.m.
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Dropbox Dropping Support for Older Operating Systems

by Michael E. Cohen

Dropbox has begun notifying users of its service to inform them that, as of 16 January 2018, it will automatically sign out any computers running certain older operating systems. The Mac systems include those running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard through 10.8 Mountain Lion; Windows Vista systems will also lose desktop support on that date. Not that it matters much, but you won’t be able to download or install the Dropbox desktop app on those systems after 3 November 2017.

Although the vast majority of Mac users have updated their Macs to later versions of OS X and macOS, some continue to run older versions. Many tend to be folk who, like me, have kept a Snow Leopard system operating in order to run PowerPC-based applications; Snow Leopard was the last Mac OS that supported Rosetta, the PowerPC emulator that enabled Intel-based Macs to run such apps (see “Rosetta and Lion: Get Over It? [1],” 23 May 2011).

This is not to say that such older systems will be completely cut off from accessing Dropbox files. Dropbox says that older systems running a “supported browser [2]” should still be able to access files through the Dropbox Web site [3]. We’ll see how long Web browsers compatible with those older operating systems remain supported. Dropbox provides more information about the end of desktop support for older systems in its help center [4].

There are undoubtedly many reasons, in addition to the Snow Leopard example I mentioned above, for users to stick with older versions of Mac operating systems — the old saw that “the way to recognize pioneers is from the arrows in their backs” comes to mind. Nonetheless, computer operating systems, like everything under the sun (and the sun itself), have finite lifetimes, and laggards now suffer the same fate as pioneers.

Adam Engst told us “Why You Should Upgrade (On Your Own Terms) [5]” (4 September 2015), and his advice about upgrading still holds true: “wait if you want, but don’t wait too long.” Dropbox’s latest news illustrates why you don’t want to wait too long.