PortableApps.com is formally announcing the end of Windows 95/98/Me support in the PortableApps.com Format, Installer, packaged apps and the PortableApps.com Platform. It's been a long time coming and has been discussed quite a bit internally and externally, so we'd like to officially announce the end of support as well as the reasons why.
Final Windows 9x Platform Release Is 1.6.1 This Week
Barring any bugfix releases, the final version of the PortableApps.com Platform/Suite that will support Windows 95/98/Me will be the 1.6.1 release this week. The upcoming release of the 2.0 Platform will run on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and future versions of Windows. The 1.6.1 release will still be available, as all our releases are available, via our SourceForge project.
Apps Ending Windows 9x Support
As most users know, nearly all of our major apps dropped support for Windows 9x quite some time ago. Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Sunbird, GIMP, Pidgin, etc all have dropped Windows 95/98/Me support. For the handful of apps that do continue to support Windows 9x, the portable versions released by PortableApps.com will not function on these unsupported versions of Windows.
Switching to Unicode: Installer, Launchers, Platform
The main reason for this change is to enable full support of Unicode across our entire ecosystem. Unicode allows all languages to be displayed on any Windows PC, regardless of the PC's set language. This will enable a Japanese user to be able to use the platform and all their apps on an English version of Windows while traveling. It will also enable us to properly support Unicode languages like Georgian, Khmer, Pashto, Vietnamese and others that we can't currently support properly.
Legacy Suite Release Possible
If there is enough interest from users, we may release a "Legacy" version of the PortableApps.com Suite. This would include the final 1.6.1 version as well as the last working versions of our major apps for Windows 95/98/Me. While not recommended for normal use (as the apps are discontinued and unsupported, they may have security issues and other bugs), they may be of use to specific users in specific areas. If you are interested in such a release, please post a comment here and let us know why.
Moving On To 2.0
Once the 1.6.1 release is posted, we will begin to post the details on the 2.0 updates to the PortableApps.com Format and Installer and begin releasing apps in the new format (which is why app releases have been slowed the last two weeks). Soon after, we will be posting the first Unicode beta of the 2.0 Platform, making our next step into the future of PortableApps.com.