What does ‘end of life’ mean?
When any software is developed it has an expected lifetime. For commercial organisations like Microsoft, they are continually releasing new software to take advantage of the improvements in new hardware to make our lives easier. They cannot support every version of their software indefinitely. Microsoft commits to supporting a particular version for a certain period of time. During this window, they will provide bug fixes, provide upgrades and otherwise generally support their product. Microsoft chose to stop developing Visual FoxPro to concentrate their resources on other products in their line. Visual FoxPro 9 (VFP9) was the last release and the extended support period ended in 2015. This means that Microsoft is under no obligation to provide bug fixes to the language. Nor do they need to ensure that Visual FoxPro applications continue running.
This doesn’t mean that your application is going to stop running overnight. It does mean that you need to start planning for your business and the future of your FoxPro application.
Visual FoxPro is built on 32-bit architecture. New hardware and software bought today are all using a 64-bit architecture. At the time of writing the latest release of Windows is Windows 10. Whilst it is a 64-bit operating system it has a 32-bit compatibility layer which old applications use to run. Visual FoxPro applications compiled using version 9 are known to generally work. This means you can extend the useful, working life of your software by compiling and updating your application to use VFP9.
What are the risks?
What does this mean for me?
- Do nothing and stay with your existing FoxPro program.
- Migrate to an off-the-shelf solution which meets some percentage of your needs.
- Convert or otherwise update your custom program to a new language or platform. There are many pros and cons which will vary according to your business needs and growth plans.