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Apple signals end of Snow Leopard support with Safari snub?

updated 11:29 pm EST, Tue December 17, 2013

Free upgrade, wide compatibility for Mavericks designed to encourage upgrading

Last week, Apple updated its Safari browser for Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks -- but for the first time since 2010, did not include an update for the Snow Leopard version, last updated to 5.1.10. The move may signal that Apple is winding down support for the three-generations-back OS, which remains the third-most popular version of OS X behind the current version, Mavericks and 10.8 Mountain Lion (respectively).

The omission may not mean the end of all Snow Leopard updates, however. The 10.6 OS was the first to include the Mac App Store and the malware protector XProtect, and both of these may continue to get updates for security purposes -- though Snow Leopard has actually been supported past its normal retirement date, in part because until Mavericks came out, it was the second most-popular version of Mac OS X. In many ways, Snow Leopard was the reference platform from which Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks are built.

Traditionally, Apple only offers active (but varying) levels of support and updates for its three most recent OS versions -- which would now make the "senior" one Lion (10.7), released in 2011. Since Snow Leopard, Apple has adopted a policy of yearly new OS versions that are less feature-laden but more routine (and dramatically lower-cost), with each building on the previous one's strengths (or in some cases, revising unpopular changes) rather than focusing on "flashy" features to grab user's attention. Many of the biggest changes in Mavericks, for example, are behind the scenes or mostly affect mobile users.

Apple also extended the life of OS X Tiger (10.4) due to its popularity beyond its normal lifespan, providing an additional 13 months of updates for Safari and other key elements (or security updates) such as iTunes and QuickTime. It is possible that Snow Leopard will receive a diminishing number of further updates to assist with compatibility, but clearly the company designed Mavericks to be as widely compatible as possible as its preferred method of encouraging remaining users to upgrade. Mavericks is compatible with some machine as old as 2007, an unusual six-year hardware compatibility. The update is also free of charge, further encouraging upgraders.

Snow Leopard is still used on around 20 percent of active Macs, with Lion accounting for about 18 percent and the latest version, Mavericks, leading with about a third of all Macs in use (leaving Mountain Lion with about 25 percent, and older versions combined registering around four percent). It was the last OS version to support PowerPC-exclusive apps, which may account for some of its longevity. With few exceptions, developers and users have moved on to Universal or Intel-native applications and alternatives (that are often superior in that they take advantage of more modern technologies and security enhancements, like 64-bit compatibility and sandboxing).

Apple currently still sells Snow Leopard on DVD for the dwindling percentage of early Intel Mac customers who never upgraded, since running Snow Leopard is the minimum needed to access the Mac App Store, from which most users can further upgrade to Mavericks. The lack of any new updates for Snow Leopard in the past few months signals that Apple will not continue to offer the retrograde OS version indefinitely, allowing natural upgrading and attrition to push Snow Leopard user numbers down to a minimal percentage by the time the next OS upgrade cycle comes around.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. graxspoo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-22-08

    Apple, put an optical drive back into the Mac mini, and maybe I'll buy some more of your hardware, upgrading my OS install in the process. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my current Mac, and my current OS. Stuff your updates.

  1. applesean

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-15-13

    Apple did virtually nothing to get users to upgrade. I'll keep with 10.7 until they add back RSS into Safari.

    PS, the Retina Macbook Pro is a step backward in almost every way as well.

  1. mojkarma

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-13-11

    Regarding optical drives in Apple computers: I have two macbooks pro, two imacs and one mac mini. Honestly, my oldest is one imac from 2006, the other is from 2009 and also my macbooks pro are 2006 and 2009. However, none of the optical drives works any more and the funny thing is that I hardly ever used them. The optical drive quality in Apple computers is horribly. I can hardly believe that all my computers are an exception. No, I don't want to pay for that garbage again. It's crap as was the old time capsule.

  1. revco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-10-05

    Snub away. Chrome, Chromium, Firefox, Opera...take your pick.

  1. bobolicious

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-15-02

    Could Apple reduce OS fragmentation by slowing annual migration forced on anyone buying new hardware...?

    Of the 90+ % of windows users worldwide, 75% seem to prefer stability in XP or W7 (which can run XP apps generally or in virtualization) which is at this point a 20 year support cycle

    The 30+% of 13 years running XP users that are being forced to sunset on support next spring could represent a 400+% increase in mac users, but would they want to deal with a new OS every single year?

    Usage share of operating systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Are some MacOS features promoted as 'new' like tabbed folders, actually a throwback to Mac Classic?

    Is there a the question of privacy and increasing integration of iCloud...?

    Is the fact that I cannot load an OS that was current even a few months ago onto a new mac reasonable?

    At what point must Apple take responsibility for creating it's own burden of OS & support fragmentation ?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by appleseanView Post

    Apple did virtually nothing to get users to upgrade. I'll keep with 10.7 until they add back RSS into Safari.



    Wow, really? 10.8 was a HUGE improvement over 10.7. It was like they got done with what they started doing in 10.7, but couldn't quite work through. I would have stuck with 10.6 over 10.7.

    And 10.9 just added an extra year of useful life to my production laptop. Yes, the performance benefits of compressed memory are THAT huge. Un-****ing-believable.

    PS, the Retina Macbook Pro is a step backward in almost every way as well.
    Well, apart from being the lightest, fastest (by far), and most transportable laptops Apple has ever built, you're right, except, um…what's left?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by boboliciousView Post

    Are some MacOS features promoted as 'new' like tabbed folders, actually a throwback to Mac Classic?



    Have you ever used Mac OS prior to OS X? NOTHING about tabbed Finder windows is even *remotely* like the "tabbed folders" feature in System 7/8. Nothing at all.

    Is the fact that I cannot load an OS that was current even a few months ago onto a new mac reasonable?

    Has it seemed unreasonable at any time in the past twenty years that this has been the case?
    No new Mac has been able to properly run a system version older than what was current at time of release since AT LEAST the early 90s.

  1. bobolicious

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-15-02

    'NOTHING about tabbed Finder windows is even *remotely* like the "tabbed folders" feature in System 7/8. Nothing at all."

    Well I would agree there are differences in that tabs lie within a folder rather than the screen edge, however to me the option replaces a missed method of open folder organization that devolved from Classic with OSX, like the missed tiered Apple menu file drill down that FinderPop replaces: www.macworld.com/article/1132783/finderpop212.html

    ...and that autosizes, rather than frustratingly truncates longer descriptive file names like folder column view does in OSX...

    Perhaps a variant of the latter will return in the next MacOS X.X, as a new if welcome feature...?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    The tabs in the 10.9 Finder don't lie "within a folder", they combine a bunch of different locations into a single WINDOW.

    They are a direct offshoot of Internet browser tabs, and bear absolutely no relation, neither in heritage, nor in function, to the ability to minimize folders to the edge of the screen in Classic Mac systems.

    IIRC, Finderpop's primary function was to recreate in OS X the horrific kludge and UI monster that the Apple menu had become in System 7 and following. Practical, yes, but Lord, what a completely ****ed-up interface (" So there's this folder in your system folder, and it's just like every other folder, except, um, what you put into there will show up in the menu under the Apple icon, for no discernible reason other than, well...yeah, sure, just gimme a call when something breaks, and I'll take a look. Okay, do you really need Quark Express up there? Oh no, don't copy it there; make an alias and then use that...").
    That was obsoleted by sticking folders into the Dock.

    The Finder contextual menu never made sense to me. There's keyboard shortcuts for the primary locations, Finder window sidebar shortcuts, Dock shortcuts, even the ability to stick folders into the Finder windows' toolbar...I never saw the need to drill hierarchically through the top level of my hard drive when I could directly access almost any folder I need regularly.

    And even that is mostly replaced by Spotlight these days in my usage.

    Also, double-clicking the bottom end of a column divider in column view will resize the column to show the longest filename in its entirety.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    @bobolicious:

    "Of the 90+ % of windows users worldwide, 75% seem to prefer stability in XP or W7 (which can run XP apps generally or in virtualization) which is at this point a 20 year support cycle"

    Um, XP was 2001. That's a 12-year support cycle, and one which Microsoft has repeatedly tried to break off. The "XP Mode" in Windows 7 was a deliberate attempt to get holdouts to upgrade, and they're not releasing any more service packs and have announced the end of support.

    "Is the fact that I cannot load an OS that was current even a few months ago onto a new mac reasonable?"

    That's more or less always been the case. Apple has required the latest OS for hardware since the 1980s -- when the Mac Plus came out in 1986, you had to have the then-brand-new System 3.0 to use it. So you're just being stupid here.

    @Spheric Harlot:

    "That was obsoleted by sticking folders into the Dock."

    Not really. If you want the exact same functionality -- which means the ability to put arbitrary things into the same location so that you have one spot for fast access to everything -- then you need to make a special folder and stock it with aliases... in other words, if you really want the dock to duplicate the old Apple menu, you need to create your own equivalent to the Apple Menu Items Folder, but now the OS won't let you put it on the menu, instead you have to waste a slot in the dock (which has a million other functions so you may not want to do that). The dock is a UI abomination; it's worse at doing its tasks than any single thing it replaced -- the NeXTStep dock, which was different, the Mac Apple Menu, the Mac Application menu, and everything else -- and it's not at all intuitive, where the various things it replaced were.

    "I never saw the need to drill hierarchically through the top level of my hard drive when I could directly access almost any folder I need regularly.

    And even that is mostly replaced by Spotlight these days in my usage."

    In other words: 'I don't use this feature, so therefore nobody needs it and it must be bad design'. You must be a Linux user most of the time; that's their kind of reasoning.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by The VicarView Post

    @Spheric Harlot:

    "That was obsoleted by sticking folders into the Dock."

    Not really. If you want the exact same functionality -- which means the ability to put arbitrary things into the same location so that you have one spot for fast access to everything -- then you need to make a special folder and stock it with aliases... in other words, if you really want the dock to duplicate the old Apple menu, you need to create your own equivalent to the Apple Menu Items Folder, but now the OS won't let you put it on the menu, instead you have to waste a slot in the dock (which has a million other functions so you may not want to do that). The dock is a UI abomination; it's worse at doing its tasks than any single thing it replaced -- the NeXTStep dock, which was different, the Mac Apple Menu, the Mac Application menu, and everything else -- and it's not at all intuitive, where the various things it replaced were.


    Sooo, to summarize:

    The single difference between the Apple menu and sticking a folder on the Dock is that the Apple takes up menubar space, and the Dock icon takes up Dock space.

    EVERYTHING else you've described is completely identical; except that the Dock is, in fact, at heart a receptacle for Finder items, and all user expectation revolves around Dock items being links to directory items, while there is absolutely no way in Hell you could argue that Finder items have any business being menu commands simply by virtue of being in (or aliased to) a specific location.

    I appreciate that you're channeling Tog, and his essay on the shortcomings of the OS X 10.0 Dock is really on the mark in many — but not all — respects, and gives me a pang of nostalgia for the excitement of 2000-2001, but seriously, choosing to criticize the Dock while comparing it to the APPLE MENU ITEMS interface from OS 9 and prior isn't just disingenuous; it's downright absurd.

    "I never saw the need to drill hierarchically through the top level of my hard drive when I could directly access almost any folder I need regularly.

    And even that is mostly replaced by Spotlight these days in my usage."

    In other words: 'I don't use this feature, so therefore nobody needs it and it must be bad design'. You must be a Linux user most of the time; that's their kind of reasoning.


    Uhuh, right. :rolleyes:

    I tell you that functionality is completely redundant and even in its redundancy can be essentially replicated, and you tell me that I must be a Linux user.

    Oddly, I seem to recall Mac users getting called out for accepting limited options, and LINUX users being the ones advocating tons of options and configurability.
    You have it backwards, in some weird nostalgic memory of the terror that was the INIT/cdev days of the mid-90s, when "power users" like us bunged up their systems with options over options and took it for granted that Apple would eventually incorporate them into the OS, in direct contradiction to the original intent of Macintosh.

    IIRC, we've both been around the block with Macintosh: I've been around the OS for 25 years, and you at least that long as well, no?

    Remember when it used to be "the computer for the rest of us"? And how the biggest outcry over OS X was how Apple rebooted the OS into that very idea?

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    @Spheric Harlot:

    Nope; the Dock sucks. I've read Tog's rant, and he makes a lot of points which are STILL perfectly valid, because the Dock was a bad idea and the things which were bad about it were never really addressed. Since it mixes currently-running programs with items you might someday want to launch, it isn't as good of a launcher as a dedicated launcher would be. Since it mixes programs which aren't running with programs which are, it isn't as good of a program management utility as the old applications menu was (which would also have permitted programs to have little menus for control while not the frontmost application, incidentally). Since it doesn't provide a single default unified location to put things for launch, it's not as good as the old Apple Menu was. The stupid pop-out windoid things when you click on a folder mean that clicking on an application or document and clicking on a folder cause different behaviors -- a folder doesn't change the frontmost app, but clicking on anything else does It also has a limited number of slots (unlike all the other things it replaced), and long before you hit the limit it starts to get less useful because of the way it has to shrink to accommodate more items (magnification ameliorates this problem but does not solve it). It also, by being integrated into the OS, requires that you either permanently sacrifice a portion of your screen to it (turn off autohide and the system will suddenly want to shove your windows out of the way) or else have it suddenly pop into view whenever the mouse gets too close, which causes GUI havoc all by itself by obscuring things which were previously clickable.

    The sole good thing about the Dock is that it has the Trash in it, which became conceptually necessary as soon as there was a "Desktop" folder in your user directory. (Since the trash is not really an "item" per se.) But the original NeXTStep dock -- which was NOT used as a launcher, and escaped most of the stupidities in the OS X Dock -- managed that trick without trying to cram in all the inappropriate functions Apple has seen fit to wedge into the dock.

    It's just a piece of annoying bad design that Apple refuses to admit was a bad move because it got Steve Jobs' seal of approval, and if there were a reasonable way to kill the wretched thing completely and go back to the old Apple-and-Application-Menu system, I think a lot of people would do it. (Same way a lot of people turn off column views in the Finder to get at least a pseudo-spacial Finder back.) Really, the reason the Dock exists is because the NeXT people coming into Apple were unwilling to accept that they were no longer in charge, the same way that column view suddenly became the default for Finder windows and open/save dialogs (even though in open/save dialogs it's actually much, much worse than the old-style list view, because the OS doesn't bother to populate the columns all the way to the left, meaning you can't actually navigate properly through everything using arrow keys... but I digress). The Dock took on all those extra functions solely in order to justify ripping out traditional Mac UI elements, to salve the pride of the NeXT boffins; the original developer release of OS X had a genuine "Classic" Mac GUI, and it was noticeably superior in usability to what we got once the NeXT people got their way.

    As for the Linux thing: the whole "I don't need this feature so nobody does" is one of the standard developer reactions on Linux. (And, in fact, FOSS as a whole. Firefox is rife with it.) In a way, it's a variation on the "works for me" or "can't reproduce" justification used not to fix bugs. Macs have always been pretty customizable "under the hood", you just couldn't fiddle with the GUI (which was a POSITIVE thing; FOSS GUIs are nightmares to use because they have to be designed to handle these extreme, idiotically obtuse user cases, like "what if the user has set the font size to 1 pixel high, but wants all other user elements to be 40 times their normal size?", so that no assumptions whatsoever can be made and programs have to go to absurd lengths to avoid breaking. FOSS people confuse "being unable to assume a working baseline" with "having lots of options".

    And, incidentally, starting around Mac OS 7.6, I didn't use any control panels or extensions which didn't come with the system, except for the occasional hardware driver. I got tired of discovering that some function I had grown used to was no longer available when I used another Mac, and decided it was better just to learn to use the vanilla system properly.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Dude. Don't rant at me over the Dock. This is 2013, and as I may have mentioned, I KNOW the asktog article.

    The subject at hand was the APPLE MENU ITEMS. And your utterly ridiculous implication that this was somehow good interface. Go off on a tangent about how the Dock sucks, but honestly, I don't care. That wasn't my point; I don't even necessarily disagree.
    I was responding to a very specific point made by bobolicious that WAS ADDRESSED very early on by the Dock. End of story.

    You've tried to paint me as an open-source geek, you've explained at me what my attitude supposedly represents, despite my posting history here and the gentle prod to let you know that I've been a Mac user since 1988. ResEdit, I knew thee well.

    Originally Posted by The VicarView Post

    As for the Linux thing: the whole "I don't need this feature so nobody does" is one of the standard developer reactions on Linux.


    Bullshit.

    The standard developer response is "here are the libraries; go code it yourself and I'll help you if I can."

    Stop trying to save a point that is flat-out wrong and trying to paint me into a corner I've never been in.

    The whole point of Linux is that ANYBODY can code ANYTHING they want to. Firefox is rife with overbearing functionality ONE GUY wanted and coded for.

    It is the EXACT OPPOSITE of EVERYTHING that the Mac has ever stood for, and that Apple stands for today. Apple has exactingly and scrupulously REMOVED (or omitted from the start) options that they felt would overcomplexify the user experience, be it in hardware or in software. That's the heart of everything they've done since Jobs took the helm again in 1997.

    Also: You're the guy who didn't use ATM nor Conflict Catcher?

    Wow.

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09

    @Spheric Harlot:

    And my point is that the Dock doesn't solve the problem at all, it actually makes it worse, which is par for the course because the Dock sucks at just about everything it does. You then denied this, so I expanded on the subject.

    As for Linux: Bullshit? Wow, maybe you really don't use any FOSS software. The standard reply to a reported bug isn't "here are the libraries" (which is inaccurate anyway; the response is "the libraries are in the repository"), it's "works for me" followed by closing the bug with "WONTFIX". You only progress from "there is no bug, you liar" to the passive-agressive flippant dismissal of "I don't want to go to the effort of fixing this bug, go fix it yourself" if you can prove the bug is there to a developer who can't be bothered to check, first.

    Firefox changes its GUI and programmatic interface over and over again because the idiots who run the project decide that's the direction it's going to go, and to heck with anyone else, and if you needed a plugin they just broke, then go screw yourself. Go write your own damn browser. (And now that Webkit is easily accessible -- thanks mostly to Apple, I might add, rather than to the FOSS community at large -- that's actually possible, which is why Firefox is positively hemorrhaging market share now. But I digress.)

    I never used ATM because I never saw the point of having a piece of software which conflicted with everything, needed an update every two hours because the programmers really weren't very good at their jobs, and (on early machines) slowed the system down noticeably while eating a huge amount of RAM, just to make a few fonts look marginally less bad on the screen, or (on later machines) was no longer necessary because I wasn't using PostScript fonts for anything any more thanks to ATM being a steaming pile of crap and QuickDraw-based printers getting much better with time.

    Conflict Catcher was never actually necessary, precisely BECAUSE I wasn't using crap like ATM. If you don't have a bunch of 3rd-party extensions/control panels loaded on an old Mac, you don't need to find conflicts between them. (Although it was nice once Extensions Manager made it possible to swap things in and out in a standard, one-click way. Made doing tech support for people much simpler once it was guaranteed to be present in an ordinary install.)

  1. bobolicious

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-15-02

    wow quite the debate !

    "Um, XP was 2001. That's a 12-year support cycle, and one which Microsoft has repeatedly tried to break off"

    So it would seem much to the chagrin & demand of the paying customers? Well if 2001 through virtualized to 2020 is I suppose only 19 years of support, but I can still buy W7pro today and install the equivalent of rosetta 12 years after the fact, which is more than I can do with Mountain Lion or Mavericks - there would seem a large number of very real potential customers in the wings, if presumably Apple can promise both state of the art AND legacy support, from what I understand anyway...?

    "Is the fact that I cannot load an OS that was current even a few months ago onto a new mac reasonable?" That's more or less always been the case." Well I would agree, however does that make it right, or the best design ? Without options there may be little exploration or freedom of choice...

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Windows still required a boot floppy until not many years ago.

    It is for one, a situation of being both state-of-the-art and supporting legacies, but the inverse is forcing everyone to deal with legacies that ceased their usefulness decades ago.

    You seem to think that Microsoft WANTED to support XP for a dozen years!?
    This is actually mostly a result of their horrific fumbling. They didn't have a viable successor until almost a decade later.
    The other part is that Microsoft has thrived on prior investment and knew full well that forcing change would drive customers away – to Linux on the business end, and to Macintosh on the private end.

    Though it wasn't until the tablet market exploded that their business model of "Why not both?" truly fell apart.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by The VicarView Post

    @Spheric Harlot:

    And my point is that the Dock doesn't solve the problem at all, it actually makes it worse, which is par for the course because the Dock sucks at just about everything it does. You then denied this, so I expanded on the subject.



    Except that you're wrong. You chose to launch your diatribe off one of two things that the Dock actually does rather well, and one thing that, for all its problems, it actually does FAR BETTER than what was in place before!

    A menu command structure is the LAST place to expect access to a hierarchical file listing (the interface being a magical folder, of all things, rather than a menu preference, really, really doesn't help).
    At least the Dock, for all its hodgepodge of functionality, is expected to deal with files and directory objects.

    If that much isn't clear, then there's no point in continuing discussion, because I really don't know how to break it down more obviously.

  1. bobolicious

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-15-02

    "but the inverse is forcing everyone to deal with legacies that ceased their usefulness decades ago."

    From what I can tell choice allows determining what is most useful, and while I have no love of XP, it would seem for many millions that it still defines 'usefulness', even with MS on a migration campaign...

    As Apple does not allow the user to determine what is best to run on newer hardware (perhaps like napoleonic law - everything is illegal unless it is permitted?) including of course the push to the cloud and potential invasion of privacy - it is of course a choice in a sense, but probably won't lure those millions of XP users about to be orphaned by MS...?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by boboliciousView Post

    As Apple does not allow the user to determine what is best to run on newer hardware (perhaps like napoleonic law - everything is illegal unless it is permitted?) including of course the push to the cloud and potential invasion of privacy - it is of course a choice in a sense, but probably won't lure those millions of XP users about to be orphaned by MS...?



    I think you completely misinterpret why people are still on XP.

    The businesses that are still on XP are on XP because of compatibility reasons. When they migrate, they will migrate to Windows 7.

    The private users that are still on XP are on XP because nobody has given them a good reason to upgrade, or because they are annoyed enough by computers to not touch them unless they have to. These are potential Mac customers, but, even more likely, the vast majority will be served just fine by an iPad/tablet.
    They will continue to invest and develop for that market, but if somebody is *still* served well by XP, he's not a target for the Mac.

    Microsoft would LOVE to "force" users to newer versions of Windows — having to support people still using a 13-year-old OS must be a complete and total nightmare for them — but they are powerless to do so, since they don't control the hardware the way Apple always has.

    As an aside:
    You don't understand that Apple doesn't need to "lure" anybody to the Mac:
    They're already raking in more profits than ANYBODY else in the PC business (at 45%, three times that of their nearest competitor, in fact), and the entire PC business is in a slow and inevitable decline.

    Apple doesn't try to lure anybody to the iPod, either. The market is declining, Apple owns what is left of it (in terms of profits), and Apple is instead positioning themselves on the NEXT market: smartphones.

    The same way Apple is entrenching themselves on the tablet market.

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