News (or rumoured news) dropped today that perhaps there is more than meets the eye behind Apple offering OS X 10.9 Mavericks for free.
A ZDnet article has caused a stir in the Mac world. It speaks of Apple releasing info of what security issues were patched in Mavericks but doesn’t say whether they are fixed in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or will be fixed, something they used to do. This points to the possibility Mountain Lion won’t be getting any updates, but nothing is confirmed.
Could Apple ditch support for a just replaced operating system so soon? Could this be the reason they offered Mavericks for free and the reason they didn’t increase the system requirements?
When Apple released a new version of OS X in the past, they always supported the previous version too. They had an N and N-1 policy, where N is the latest version of OS X and N-1 is the previous one. In some cases when a new version was released, they still released point updates for older OS.
However, Apple broke this policy recently by offering OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which at the time was N-2, security updates, along with OS X 10.7 Lion (N-1) and Mountain Lion (N). People’s reasoning behind this shift was due to Snow Leopard still having a 40% user base at the time – and Apple couldn’t afford for nearly half its Mac population to go unsecure.
Offering Mavericks for free to anyone who can run it – to anyone with a capable Mac even if they are still running Snow Leopard – is a great move to tempt people to update, a move which should see a significant drop in Snow Leopard users (see Mavericks Already Dominates Among OS X Users for Low End Mac’s statistics on the upgrade).
What seemed like generosity on Apple’s part – initially thought of as a shift in how they see their business model bringing free OS X updates alongside its free iOS updates policy – now seems like it could possibly have a dark and sinister underside.
There are some machines that will run Snow Leopard and nothing newer, although these are a few Core Duo and Core Solo machines introduced in 2006. Some later 2006 Core 2 Duo Macs will run Lion but nothing newer due to less powerful graphics chips not being supported in Mountain Lion. Will these be dropped 100% by Apple? While Mavericks will surely tempt some Snow Leopard users to upgrade because of its gratis price tag, thus lowering the number of Snow Leopard users, I don’t see this wiping Snow Leopard (or Lion, for that matter) out altogether.
However, 2008 is still a long way back, and I was surprised that Apple would release a 2013 operating system that runs – and runs very well – on five year old hardware. So if Apple dropd all support for anything other than Mavericks, it is not much of a surprise, and it means it is still supporting everything in the last five years. You are just being pushed to upgrade to Mavericks if you wish to receive future security updates.
It could mean the end for Mountain Lion support, but they are offering a free upgrade.
Do Apple have a second wave of planned obsolescence? The Mac world was in uproar when Snow Leopard was released just for Intel machines, theoretically killing off PowerPC Macs from future support.
Are we now moving in to the 64-bit only era? An era of “run Mavericks or risk security flaws”? Or am I over-reacting? Or perhaps the rumours are nothing more than that, but it isn’t as far fetched as initially thought.
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