Three is the new number for continuing oldstable security support: thanks to the efforts of those behind the Long-Term Support initiative, the full stable lifecycle of a release has therefore become five years (source:Â https://www.debian.org/News/2014/20140424).
Where do those numbers come from? 2 years as stable, 1 year overlap support as oldstable, plus 2 new years under LTS = 5 years.
Having been successful for Squeeze (6), LTS is widely anticipated to follow a similar pattern for Wheezy (7) and Jessie (8) for the same lifetimes. Some reduction in coverage is unavoidable (for example, Squeeze only covers the most popularÂ amd64 andÂ i386 architectures), but for aÂ majority of users this reduces the need to follow a three-year upgrade cycle – invaluable when you are managing hundreds or thousands of servers and can’t achieve that in a single year.