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Apple May Have Abandoned One in Five Mac Users


With no security update in nearly six months, Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, may no longer be supported by Apple after only four years on the market.

For many Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) users, April 4 marks an unfortunate day in their daily computing usage. In a little over a month, Microsoft will officially drop support for the still-popular Windows XP operating system. Released over 12 years ago, XP usage has survived three subsequent versions of the OS with nearly one-third of Windows users still running it. While that can be a testament to the number of folks still running older systems at home and in the office -- just take a look at Internet Explorer's usage for evidence of that -- it also proves when an operating system works well enough, users are hesitant to move on.

Such is the case for Mac (NASDAQ:AAPL) users as well, particularly those holding onto desktops and laptops purchased prior to 2007. For those loyal to their "vintage" 32-bit machines, they cannot upgrade OS X past version 10.6, aka Snow Leopard. In order to experience Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks, they would have to upgrade their entire machine to a 64-bit system -- a costly decision.

Unfortunately, as Windows XP will soon be put out to pasture after 12 and a half years, it looks as if Apple may have dropped support for Snow Leopard after only four years on the market.

Amidst the recent brouhaha surrounding the "gotofail" security exploit affecting Mac machines (see Apple's Security Breach: 4 Steps to Take Now), Apple released software patches for Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks systems. Snow Leopard, however, received no patch. Although it hasn't been confirmed whether Snow Leopard was affected by the security exploit, the OS hasn't received a security update since September of last year. Additionally, Safari 5.1.0 -- the most current version of the browser for Snow Leopard -- went ignored in December when Apple patched Safari 6 and 7 for later OS X versions.

If Apple has abandoned Snow Leopard support, that means one in five Mac users are now potentially vulnerable to security exploits similar to "gotofail." On top of that, popular third-party apps like Google Chrome (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Mozilla Firefox may follow suit and discontinue version updates for Snow Leopard systems.

While loyalty to Windows XP is understandable, 12 and a half years is more than enough time to have upgraded to a later version of Windows. However, Snow Leopard users with working machines a little over six years old shouldn't be abandoned -- especially when it leaves roughly 20% of Macs vulnerable to attacks.

See also:

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