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Windows 2000 Support - Thoughts and Discussion

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on September 25, 2014 - 3:09pm

PortableApps.com is considering ending Windows 2000 support for certain products. This blog post provides the background, the reasoning, and asks for community input.

Windows 2000 Background

Windows 2000 was end-of-lifed four years ago in July of 2010. Before being end-of-lifed, its usage was quite low. Today, Windows 2000 sees only about 0.03% usage in global market share and 0.06% in PortableApps.com website visitors. At this point in time, most important apps have long since dropped Windows 2000 support (all major browsers, office suites, email clients, FTP, etc).

Current Windows 2000 Support on PortableApps.com

At present, our tools (launcher, installer, appcompactor, etc) as well as our platform (menu, app store, updater, backup) continue to support Windows 2000. As most apps have dropped support for Windows 2000 and testing each release for when they do is burdensome, we no longer test or certify apps with Windows 2000 nor do we list Windows 2000 compatibility in the app directory on our website.

Issues With Windows 2000 Support

There are multiple issues with ongoing Windows 2000 support. One is that we no longer test on Windows 2000 for anything, including the platform. So, although we list Windows 2000 as supported, given features may stop working with any release.

A larger issue has to do with development. We're currently tied to Delphi XE2 for the menu portion of the platform as it is the last version with Windows 2000 support. This version is no longer supported and has some bugs that will never be fixed. It was released in 2011 and superseded by Delphi XE3 a year later. Newer releases of Delphi offer bug fixes and additional features that would make development and feature additions easier. The current release of Delphi is XE7 which released this month.

Ending Windows 2000 Support, Dropping Platform Compatibility

What we're considering is dropping Windows 2000 as a 'supported' OS across the board. Our packaging tools (launcher, installer, etc) would continue working with Windows 2000 as they are based on NSIS Unicode, but we would no longer support it nor list it as a supported OS. That way software publishers that wish to continue supporting Windows 2000 may continue to use our tools to do so, both for portablization and packaging. This may change, of course, as we update the tools to use newer versions of NSIS and associated plugins or migrate to another language and compiler. But we'll make a best effort to maintain support if publishers want it at present.

On the platform side, we'll likely upgrade the build process to use Delphi XE7. Test compiles already work without issue. Windows XP and up will continue to work as they do now. And we'd be well positioned to add more OS integration options and features on Windows 7, 8/8.1 and the upcoming 9 release. This will mean, however, that all future platform releases will fail to run on Windows 2000.

Possible Final Release

One thing we could do is offer a final release for Windows 2000 of the platform sans updater and continue to make that available for download. We've considered bundling versions of the last releases of some major apps that supported Windows 2000 as well, but that would be problematic. All of them (email, browser, FTP, office suite) have major security vulnerabilities and we shouldn't really be encouraging anyone to continue using them.

Windows XP Support Continues

It's worth noting that although Windows XP was end-of-lifed a few months ago in April of 2014, it remains popular in general worldwide and within the PortableApps.com userbase. Although some apps have begun to end support for Windows XP when the update to newer compilers (FileZilla, etc), we will continue to support Windows XP with all our tools and the platform for the forseeable future.

Your Thoughts

I'd like to hear the communities thoughts on this, which is why this post is here. So, if you have something to add, please chime in below. Thanks!

Comments

Is there really anyone still using win2k? I have to ask, why? Admittedly I don't know much of the history of Windows, but didn't XP supercede Win2k? I haven't even seen any business use of this as all corporates use XP.

I think if it is retarding development it makes sense to move on. The idea of having a final Platform release is good. Everything becomes obsolete in the end, it's simply a matter of time...

Live for an ideal and leave no place in the mind for anything else.

John T. Haller's picture

I don't know of anyone that's still running Windows 2000. We'll likely be switching over and have planned this for a little while. I'd wanted to wait until 12.0 was out since it was built for XE2 anyway. And I wanted to ensure that the community was aware of it and had a say in case I'd missed anything before making the change.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

invenio's picture

Why devote resource to an OS that only 0.03% of the world uses? I say drop it.

vf2nsr's picture

1. Considering nothing really supports it anymore, not sure how any developer, yourself included can accurately test apps to be compatible with the OS that even the parent company has long since abandoned.

2. As a former user of Win2K I can say why I used, but shall we not say where it came from Smiling this makes me wonder out of the low number of users that we still do have exactly why they have not at least come up to an P or above?

3. Given the intentions of upgrading the Delphi, it would seem that the benefit to the many should outweigh the few?

4. Like all decisions I understand this to be hard, as I recall it was also hard to drop 95/98 support, but it was necessary. Given that you are the driving force behind this whole project I think you have the final decision as to where we go from here. You lead and I will follow. As will the mass of other followers.

My comments may irritate some, they are not meant to cause any hard feelings or hostile responses please. They are feelings of mine only and everyone who has an opinion should express theirs.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss

It has been over half a decade since I saw the last hold-out PC on Windows 2000 (at a Hospital *cringe*).

I would drop support for that OS with a smile on my face, and I can't imagine anyone here using it or running into a PC they can use with that OS.

It is the zombie that is XP we still have to worry about, unfortunately.

rhapdog's picture

Yes, definitely drop Win2K. As a matter of fact, should you decide to drop XP in the near future, I'd support that as well. I will not plug in my flash drive to a computer running anything less than Vista, and I prefer to stick with only Windows 7/8 computers. However, I've pretty much been able to convert completely to Windows 8.1 systems everywhere I go within the last month.

I would rather do without computer use than to use a computer for any length of time that has any Windows OS less than 7 due to possible vulnerabilities. Still popular or not, I wish to stick with safer.

On another note, glad to hear XE7 is out. I'll have to check it out. I'm still running on XE2 myself.


we'll likely upgrade the build process to use Delphi XE7


we will continue to support Windows XP

But:

Applications built with Delphi 2009-XE2 and VCL will run on Windows 2000 or later. Applications built with Delphi XE3-XE5 will run on Windows XP and later. Applications built with Delphi XE6-XE7 will run on Windows 7 later.

http://www.embarcadero.com/products/delphi/frequently-asked-questions, question "Will applications built with Delphi XE7 run on older versions of Windows including Windows Vista, XP, 2000, 95, 98 and Me?".

French./Français.

John T. Haller's picture

I have a build of the PortableApps.com Platform built with Delphi XE6 running on Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP2 at this very moment.

I'm unsure why the FAQ is wrong. XE6's system requirements even list Vista as a supported OS for installing and running the full IDE. XE7's system requirements does list Windows 7 and 8 as the only supported OS for the IDE, so I'll be sure to check whether the compiled EXEs run on XP/Vista before upgrading. I'll also drop Embarcadero a note about the error in the FAQ.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

That may be the official policy of support.
So potentially problematic, even under XE6.

Anyway, in terms of number of computers running XP (and to lesser extent Vista), it is best to keep their compatibilities. And this, whatever the choice of the next version of Delphi to continue.

Some software, such as Paint.NET, only works on Windows 7 and later.
It depends on who you want as users.

French./Français.

John T. Haller's picture

I don't think there's support for anything that officially 'supports' running on Windows XP anymore. So, there's not much reason not to use the later versions. XE2 may have supported XP when it was released, but it's no longer supported by Embarcadero. And it has a few annoying bugs in the IDE that were never fixed.

I just checked and Delphi XE7 EXEs do indeed run on Windows XP. Both a fresh project EXE and the full PortableApps.com Platform compiled in XE7 work without issue on Windows XP SP3.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Ken Herbert's picture

With such low levels of usage and, as you say, so many other developers having already dropped it, there isn't much tying us to it.

A final Platform release for Win2k sounds like a decent gesture towards the few remaining users who would be affected.

The only real problem I can foresee is users from other Windows versions who are then forced to use a Win2k PC while travelling etc. and their Platform will no longer work.

I guess the primary option for that use-case is for the user to maintain their own legacy Platform install on the off-chance they will come across this situation, but it doesn't help the users who don't preempt it happening.

For the sake of a couple of Mb would it be viable to bundle a legacy Platform with the current Platform and detect the OS at launch? I'm inclined to think this is more work than it is worth, but I thought I'd throw it out there just in case.

the developer formerly known as winterblood

John T. Haller's picture

I considered this, but it's a bit problematic. We'd have to keep maintaining the old release alongside new since they'd share the same settings files (bookmarks, renames, categorization, etc). Unless I created a very minimal Win2K version sans theming and options or with some very basic separate options. That is a possibility if enough people are interested.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I would say: if a user regularly has to use a very old W2k computer he/she already has a working "stick"... So that user could stick to that stick... Since, as John indicates, a lot of tools also no longer support W2k, even when the installer/launcher supports W2k, this does not mean that the tools do!
On top of that: a computer with W2k most likely has an age which is way beyond the economic lifetime and batteries may have gone dead already several times (2 - 3 years lifetime is max for a single set of batteries... and after 6 or more years most likely new batteries will be more costly and very hard to get)...

Since using W7 and knowing nobody with W2k I would say... drop the support Smiling

Drop,
I'd go even further, I'd set a date for end of support for XP.
I'd even create a new policy that 64 Bit versions are first priority.

It's time to leave the past behind.

Ken Herbert's picture

As has been stated time and again our goals are to support the widest range of use-cases possible for portable use where people have no control over the computers they go to, not to churn out the newest, least compatible stuff possible that will only run on your home computer and leave everyone else in the dust.

XP will be around for a long time yet despite that it has been end-of-life'd, so we plan to support it as best we can for as long as we can. 64-bit will also not take first priority for a long time to come, as has been stated ad-nauseum elsewhere in the forums most 64-bit apps provide no discernible benefit over their 32-bit counterparts.

the developer formerly known as winterblood

By all means drop support from the latest versions but, why not keen an archive for each dropped platform, containing the last known working version of each app.

John T. Haller's picture

For the most part, we have no idea when a given publisher drops a given OS other than when a user happens to point it out. Nearly all publishers dropped Windows 2000 support without any sort of public announcement or mention in the release notes. Attempting to determine after the fact would mean trying version after version after version of a given app to see when it stopped working on Windows 2000. And then repeat that for over 300 apps.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I also vote to Drop Win2k. I'd even drop XP, if other advantages would arise..

I'd drop Win2K support but make an "as-is" archive of all Win2K versions available: the last Win2K-compatible version of each app that ever ran on Win2K, with no support of any kind.

There are legitimate reasons to run old software, so if people feel they have good reasons to use old, insecure versions, then let them: put a conspicuous warning and disclaimer on the download index page and leave it at that. That's encouraging autonomy, not stupidity. Stupidity can't be entirely prevented, and personally I prefer to make my own decisions about what software I run, so I pay others the same respect even when I don't like what they decide. (Think "Facebook"!)

There are lots of WinXP systems still at work, so it seems useful to me to continue WinXP support for now, as you lay out in "Possible Final Release".

I am using sometimes still w2k, w98 and NT4

For that I use old platform, and number of files I keep in two versions, the new one and one old compatible with older systems.

As long as old files are available and marked as compatible with w2k, well new files can be made not compatible.

The need is given often when I need to run some programs for example on hardware which has embedded windows running on it, it can not be changed, nothing can be installed on it, and the equipment itself is still far from obsolete. Network analyzer did some 12 years ago cost some 70k, so will certainly not be trashed just because of old version of operating system.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Wayfarer's picture

I was a heavy W2000 user until Windows XP SP3 came out and then I still used it thoroughly until Microsoft dropped support.

I think that if there's still some W2K users out there they will have good reasons to keep using it and so they surely will be computer savvy enough to know the risks of using unsupported / obsolete software.

So I think that the best move would be to make a final Windows 2000 working release and offer it for download with a nice disclaimer and warning text, and then drop support in further versions.

My two euro cents Smiling