Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Years of macOS Updates

Andrew Cunningham:

The end result is a spreadsheet full of dozens of Macs, with multiple metrics for determining how long each one received official software support from Apple.


For all Mac models tracked, the average Mac receives almost exactly seven years of new macOS updates from the time it is introduced, plus another two years of security-only updates that fix vulnerabilities but don’t add new features.


Macs that are sold for an abnormally long time—the 2014 Mac mini that was available until 2018, the 2013 Mac Pro that was available until 2019, or the 2015 MacBook Air that was available until 2019, to pick three examples that Ventura doesn’t support—don’t get software updates for longer just because Apple sold them for longer. This differs from the timeline Apple uses to provide hardware repair services, which is determined based on “when Apple last distributed the product for sale.”


This has led to a gradual decline in the amount of time that Macs could expect to get new macOS releases, but the amount of software support was well within the normal historical range for Macs released in 2014 and 2015. Ventura changes that for Macs released in 2016, in particular. Those models are getting new macOS updates for less than six years from their release date, the least since 2006 and a year or two less than Mac owners could expect in the very recent past. It’s not a historical low, but it’s a noticeable step backward.


It’s also worth stressing that while there are at least mildly compelling reasons for dropping support for older 4th- and 5th-gen Intel CPUs in Ventura, as best we can tell, those reasons don’t really extend to most of the Skylake-based Macs.

Paul Haddad:

I’d probably be more OK with the situation if the OS releases were actually adding significant new features or if Apple wasn’t making supporting old releases harder than it should be.


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Computer vendors generally offer a 7 year life cycle before a computer is declared vintage and EOL. This is because the US Government requires computer vendors for Federal contracts to be able to supply support and repair parts for 7 years.

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