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I want to get the new 16" Macbook Pro which ships with Catalina, but I don't want Catalina at least for now because of how many legacy apps it breaks, not to mention Avid/Protools hardware which typically doesn't update drivers for up to a year after a new OS release.

I understand that new Macs sometimes have drivers they need which bundled only with that latest release, but I'm not sure how set in stone this is. Where can I find more solid information about this? I'm really Catalina-shy at this point.

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The 16" MacBook Pro cannot run anything earlier than Catalina.

Sometimes you can “downgrade” the operating system on a new Mac to an earlier version of macOS, but you should never count on it.

If that Mac is completely new hardware (like the new 16" MacBook Pro) then Apple never adds driver support for older versions of macOS.

If you order a Mac which could run an older version of macOS, even though it comes installed with a newer version of macOS, it might be able to downgrade.

For example, if Apple released a minor update to the 2019 MacBook Air line, and you ordered a new MacBook Air and it arrived with Catalina on it, you might be able to install Mojave on it. But you would never be able to install High Sierra on it (in fact the 2019 MacBook Air cannot run anything older than 10.14.5).

  • Is it compatible with current MAS version 10.15.1, or it needs a special build from Internet Recovery? – amdyes Dec 5 at 6:27
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No - the Mac Pro (about to ship) and MacBook Pro 16 have T2 chips that lack any firmware support to run anything but Catalina. Since Catalina has been available for testing since June 2019, it’s going to be hard for a software company for professionals to say they can’t support it 6 months after the beta period started.

You can run older OS in a virtual environment, but if you absolutely cannot bring your work to 10.16 it’s better to not buy the latest hardware until you know your software can support 64 bit only operating system.

They say coming soon as of 1 December - will be interesting to see if they can support the monster Mac Pro on release day.

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    I like how the first sentence has the correct answer and reason why, but the rest seems to just be bashing other companies which cannot support the new OS and is irrelevant to the question. – Reimus Klinsman Dec 2 at 19:14
  • Well - my company is still struggling to get ready for Catalina so I get how hard this is. Not trying to bash, but we’re being very blunt with the companies we spend money with. We have a scorecard where we give them grades on packaging / MDM / ease of installing / support for betas / missing support for 0 day. The yearly tick-tock since lion makes anyone who doesn’t have a credible plan for support within weeks of fall OS hard to distinguish from team clown town TBH. I’m not saying if you’re not ready you’re a clown - just not having a clear timeline and believable plan isn’t a great look. – bmike Dec 2 at 23:52
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No as it won’t have shipped with it. It won’t boot to alternate installers so only recovery options to install. So only Catalina upwards. There maybe a way to do it but not officially. You could maybe use VM Ware Fusion to run Mojave in Catalina but not sure if that would be a particularly seamless experience.

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