The problem, of course, is that Apple, unlike Microsoft and other major software vendors, does not spell out its support policies. Instead, it leaves users guessing about when their operating systems will fall off the support list. "Let's face it, Apple doesn't go out of their way to ensure users are aware when products are going end of life," said Andrew Storms, director of DevOps at security company CloudPassage, in a December 2013 interview about Snow Leopard support questions.
If Apple does put Lion out to the savannah, it will have dropped the OS after just three years. That's less than a third of the decade Microsoft currently promises to support a Windows edition. (However, there are signs that Microsoft may modify that policy, at least for consumers.)
Halting patches for OS X Lion customers would, of course, be painful — and potentially risky — for them, but Apple probably won't blink an eye. As of July, Lion accounted for just 10% of all versions of OS X in use, according to metrics company Net Applications.
By the end of September, Lion's user share will be about 8%, assuming it continues to drop at the rate it has over the last six months. That will be less than half of Snow Leopard's share when Apple pulled its plug last year.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.