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Does Apple backport fixes for older versions of their software like OSX 10.8.5 or iOS 7.1.2?

I tend to stay behind the curve a little with new devices because I find them to be more reliable and cheaper. For example, when iPhone 6 came out, I got an iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5 is not quite 3 years old but I have not seen any updates for iOS 7.1.2 other than to upgrade to iOS 9 which sounds like a radical action.

  • Edited out what was short of a rant. StackExchange is a technically-oriented question-and-answer community, not a place to voice your opinions on market practices of vendors. – techraf Sep 3 '16 at 8:30
  • Every version of Apple's OS since 10.9 has been a free upgrade, so you should be able to upgrade no problem. – Alexander O'Mara Sep 3 '16 at 17:23
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Apple releases updates for older versions of their software including operating systems, however at some point in time they stop doing so for a certain major version, which indicates the end of support.

Apple does not publish a clear support calendar for their software products like it does for hardware.

This page lists Apple security updates to their major software:

  • OS X 10.8 has not seen an update since Aug 2015
  • iOS 7 has not been updated since June 2014

As a general rule of OS X Apple has supported current major version along with two previous ones.

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While Apple, as mentioned in the other answer, appears to mostly have a policy of updating the previous two major versions with fixes for significant issues, one apparently cannot rely on this always being the case. As was pointed out in a twitter thread on the subject, Broadpwn and Meltdown fixes apparently were not backported to the previous two major versions at the times.

Quoting from a 5 Jan 2018 tweet by @mikeymikey:

HEADS UP #macadmins : Apple JUST updated https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208331 today (Jan 5th) and REMOVED mention of 10.12 and 10.11 being fixed for CVE-2017-5754 aka #Meltdown

Only 10.13.2 contains the fix.

Quoting from a 6 Jan 2018 tweet by Nathaniel Irons (@irons):

Broadpwn was only fixed for 10.12, then the latest macOS version. Scary precedent.

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