Half of all Macs will lack access to security updates by summer
Mountain Lion's impending debut means Apple will stop supporting Snow Leopard, unless it changes a decade-old habit
Computerworld - Unless Apple changes its security update practice, nearly half of all Mac users will be adrift without patches sometime this summer.
Apple will launch OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, in the next few months, and then will -- barring a change in a decade-old habit -- stop serving patches to OS X 10.6, or Snow Leopard.
Although Apple has never spelled out its support policy for older operating systems, it has always dropped an edition around the time it has two newer versions in play. If the current OS X is dubbed "n," then "n-2" support ends at the debut of "n."
In other words, patches are provided only to the newest OS X and the one immediately preceding it.
The company has practiced this since OS X's birth: The second iteration, 10.1 -- dubbed Puma -- received its final security update in January 2004, three months after the appearance of OS X 10.4, or Panther.
More recently, Apple snuffed out support for OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, when 10.7, or Lion, shipped. The former got its last security update in June 2011, a month before the latter was released.
If Apple continues this policy, Snow Leopard users will stop seeing patches about the time Mountain Lion ships. Apple has not set a hard date for OS X 10.8's debut, although it has pegged "late summer."
But Snow Leopard currently accounts for 41.5% of all versions of OS X, according to Web metrics company Net Applications' latest statistics. Assuming Snow Leopard's share continues to drop at the average pace of the last six months, it will still power 34.4% of all Macs in August or 32.6% in September.
With earlier editions included, that means 48.4% of all Macs will be without security updates if Apple stops serving Snow Leopard in August. If it continues patching until September, the number sans fixes drops to 45.9%.
Some security professionals see those numbers as too high, and Apple's support lifespan too short.
"[OS X] 10.6 released in August 2009, which means that any Mac purchased prior to that date and not subsequently upgraded will be running a version which receives no security support [Emphasis in origin]," Robin Stevens, part of the University of Oxford's network security team, said in a blog post last month.
"[Apple has] been complacent in terms of their attitude to security and support, especially when compared to their chief competitor [Microsoft]," Stevens added. "By comparison, Apple appear to be making minimal effort, and are putting their customers at risk as a result."
Stevens wanted Apple to commit to a support lifetime of at least five years.
Other experts don't see Apple's support practice as the biggest problem, but instead tagged the company's notorious silence.
- Apple hands stock worth $12.1M to top execs in retention deal
- Hands on: Apple's Mac Pro is the fastest Mac ever
- Apple CFO to retire in September after he cashes in $53M stock award
- Apple's CarPlay to spark mobile apps war in your car
- Apple retires Snow Leopard from support, leaves 1 in 5 Macs vulnerable to attacks
- Apple patches critical 'gotofail' bug with Mavericks update
- Why Apple needs a $700 MacBook Air
- Apple takes top spot in brand value computation
- Apple gets a patent for health-monitoring ear buds
- Apple shifts to hardware-first TV strategy with revamped set-top box
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software See why CommVault was positioned as the #1 leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery software for the 3rd year in...
- Forrester Report: CommVault is a Leader in Enterprise Backup and Recovery In this report, Forrester takes a deep dive into the evaluation criteria, how CommVault is positioned and the features and functionality that make...
- Forrester Wave for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Read this report to see how CommVault continues to outpace its competitors and why Forrester positioned CommVault Simpana as the top backup and...
- Architecting the Network of the Future Networks need to change, as does the way IT thinks about and manages them. In addition to reliability, IT must now add higher...
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them.
On-Demand Webcast: 7 Reasons to Choose VoIP
Thinking about a new phone system for your business?
Be sure to watch this informative webcast. Steve Strauss, small business columnist for USA...
All Mac OS X White Papers |