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Mac OS lifecycle


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#1 huntsin2

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 09:51 PM

Hi,

 

I'm interested in possibly buying a used MacBook Pro. The one I am looking at has the El Capitan 10.11.1 OS. I'm wondering how long Apple supports their software or provides updates for it? Basically, how long could I expect to be able to use the potential laptop before it is no longer supported by Apple, and/or is insecure or obsolete?



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#2 smax013

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 10:35 PM

Hi,
 
I'm interested in possibly buying a used MacBook Pro. The one I am looking at has the El Capitan 10.11.1 OS. I'm wondering how long Apple supports their software or provides updates for it? Basically, how long could I expect to be able to use the potential laptop before it is no longer supported by Apple, and/or is insecure or obsolete?


That question is more complicated that just what the current macOS that is one the computer. It will also depend on the specific Mac model you are considering.

The first aspect is the active support for the macOS. Apple's current policy is that they support the current macOS version (which right now is Sierra, aka 10.12.x) and the two previous versions (which right now would be El Capitan, aka 10.11.x, and Yosemite, aka 10.10.x). The current version will get security updates, bug fixes and potentially some new features during support. The previous two versions will just get security updates and bug fixes. And since Apple tends to release a new macOS version each year, that effectively means that each macOS version will get about 3 years of support. Apple tends to release the new macOS in the Fall. So, that means that sometime this fall, it is likely that macOS 10.13.x (or whatever version number they give it) will be released. When it does, then Apple will likely drop support for Yosemite, aka 10.10.x.

The other issue is what versions of the macOS the Mac can run. As time goes by, more older Macs are dropped from support in terms of being able to run the latest version of the macOS. For example, if the Mac you are looking at is old enough, it might be maxed out at El Capitan, aka 10.11.x (i.e. it is not officially supported to run Sierra, aka 10.12.x). If so, then there is effectively about one and half years left before it will only be able to run a version of the macOS that gets active security updates. Otherwise, it might be able to run Sierra, aka 10.12.x, (but the current owner just has not installed it), but then maybe it is old enough that it will not be supported to run the new version of the macOS that comes out in the fall. Unfortunately, no one but Apple knows which Mac models it might not support for the new macOS until they release it or at least announce it (they likely will announce the new macOS at their developer's conference that starts in a week...that is what they have done in past years). Generally, the newer the model is, the less likely it will not be supported for the next macOS version. If it is a model that will not have support to run the new version, then that means you would have about 2.5 years before you would lose active update support (i.e. basically when Sierra, aka 10.12.x, is no longer supported).

So, without knowing the model of the Mac, I cannot say for sure. You would have at least about 1.5 years as it currently has El Capitan on it, so we know it is supported to run El Capitan. If you tell me what Mac model it is, then I can likely be more detailed. And to give you an idea of how best to describe the model, I am using what is referred to as a Mid 2014 15" Retina MacBook Pro with dedicated graphics.

To give you an idea of where things stand right now, here are the requirements for Sierra:

https://support.apple.com/kb/sp742?locale=en_US

You will note that any MacBook Pro model Mid 2010 or newer can run Sierra officially. Thus, as long as the MBP you are looking at is at least a Mid 2010 model or newer, it can then run Sierra. Which then means you would have at least 2.5 years or so before you would lose active update support for the macOS...and could be much longer if the model is significant newer. The most likely next models to "drop off" the list that can run the upcoming new version would be the Mid 2010 models and maybe some or all the 2011 models...and potentially even some of the 2012 models...but again we will not know until Apple either announces the new version (potentially in a week or so) or even until it is actually released (which will likely be this fall).

Edit: I forgot to mention that just because the Mac model can run a particular macOS version officially, it does not mean it can use all the features of that macOS version. Take a look that the link and you will see for example that you need a 2012 or newer model MBP to use the Handoff, Instant Hotspots, and Universal Clipboard features in Sierra. There are other limitation if you look at the link.

Edited by smax013, 27 May 2017 - 10:38 PM.


#3 x64

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 02:12 AM

This is a topic of interest to me as well (though I've in reality been going though this thought process for the past few years).

 

A few years ago, I found myself using Apple mobile devices (iPad and iPhone at the time) and realising where Microsoft would be going over in the future. I found myself coping with the disjoint between using Apple for mobile and MS for desktop, and envisaging that it was quite likely I'd become disenfranchised with MS when MS completed its transition to their new business model (I realised what was going to be happening on that front even before the original Win10 insider program was launched). I was also interested in gaining knowledge about iOS programming.

 

At that time I bought a used MacBook Pro and used it to start gaining knowledge about whether I should migrate to Mac or swallow hard and stay with MS. A few weeks ago, in a dazzling display of 'retail therapy' I finally jumped MS Ship (as my primary day to day platform at least - I'll still need to run the Win10 PC - just not every day) with the purchase of a new MacBook Pro. Last year, the original MBP that I purchased to dip my toe in the water fell out of hardware support and is reliant on the support for previous versions of MacOS. It is a MacBook Pro mid-2009 and will not accept anything newer than el-Capitan.

 

So onto some interesting things.

 

I think the hardware support lifetime is six years from end of sale - Hence my mid 2009 MBP ceased to be eligible for support in mid 2016. Non-pro MacBooks from LATE 2009 still just about getting the Sierra upgrade last year. As smax013 says - the two prior MacOS versions are still supported for Security updates and my mid 2009 MBP is still getting those, and barring further information I'd agree with cmaxo13's estimate for how much longer they will continue.

 

That is not quite the whole story however.

 

One very unexpected thing was that some (what might be regarded as important) Apple Apps can no longer be purchased for OSs earlier that the very newest (Sierra). When the 'Pages' app 'went free' a couple of months ago, I went to pick it up on the 2009 MBP and it could not be downloaded. Apparently older versions of Pages can be re-downloaded if the device in question previously had it, but new purchases? no... A bit odd really. In order to get Pages on that unit, I'd need to find an old Works CD and stuff that in.

 

x64



#4 huntsin2

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 02:08 PM

Thank you both for your posts.



#5 smax013

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 03:27 PM

One very unexpected thing was that some (what might be regarded as important) Apple Apps can no longer be purchased for OSs earlier that the very newest (Sierra). When the 'Pages' app 'went free' a couple of months ago, I went to pick it up on the 2009 MBP and it could not be downloaded. Apparently older versions of Pages can be re-downloaded if the device in question previously had it, but new purchases? no... A bit odd really. In order to get Pages on that unit, I'd need to find an old Works CD and stuff that in.


Yes, this can be an issue for Apple software and for third party software. But this can also be an issue for Windows computers too.

The general issue is that newer versions of many applications tend to require newer version of the OS.

For example, Office 2016 for Mac requires at least macOS 10.10.x (aka Yosemite).

So, my general recommendation is if buying a used Mac, buy one that runs the current macOS. This will allow you to 1) make sure you get at least between 2 to 3 years of macOS updates (where you are in that range will depend on how long the most current version has been out) and 2) allows you to be able to run any current application out there, whether from Apple or any third party software company. The main exceptions to this general recommendation is 1) if you understand the limitations of getting a model that does not run the most current macOS and/or 2) you are a long time Mac nerd like me who already has lots of older versions of application to install on such a Mac. :grinner:

#6 macuser

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 04:14 PM

I have an iMac that is 11 yrs old. still works fine for email, web surfing. playing music. basic stuff. I updated the OS to El Capitan.



#7 Nawtheasta

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 07:50 PM

My QuickBooks for MAC  2013 is only optimized for the operating system current at the time.

I read that if I updated the OS this version of QB could have problems



#8 Twin B

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 08:12 PM

Like 'macuser' my iMac is 9 years old and running El Capitan. It still does what I want it to do. 


I've learned blood is not thicker than money. 

 





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