Do 450 SM's need to be on firmware in order to be compatible with the 450M AP?

Yes, I believe so.

From the release notes:

When replacing a PMP 450 or 450i AP installation with a PMP 450m AP, the following upgrade procedure is recommended:

1. Upgrade the 450/450i AP to

2. Upgrade the 450/450i SMs to

3. Upgrade the 450m AP to

4. Switch over to PMP 450m cnMedusa AP

I had some straggling 450 SMs on 14.1.2 connect to our 450M APs today so I know it works without updating. I did update them to right away though once they were connected.

Yes and No

They will register to a 450M AP in 14.1.2 or 14.2, but they will NOT utilize MU-MIMO beam forming meaning it will run slower than a regular 450i AP

You need to be running to take advantage of the grouping when you go up to 200mbps

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