Hello NVDA users and add-on developers,
First, I would like to reiterate how important it is that everyone listen to advice from reputable sources regarding COVID-19, including public health officials recommending folks to exercise social distancing for a while. Even if you do not feel sick, please help others by washing hands, practice social distancing, and monitor the situation regarding the pandemic and community spread. And since the NVDA community is a global movement, please support each other.
Onto the matter at hand: for several days I have received requests about NVDA add-ons and Windows XP support. Requests have included making add-ons compatible with Windows XP again, compatibility issues, and backporting newer NVDA bug fixes and features to users of NVDA 2017.3, the last version compatible with Windows XP.
At the moment there is no community guidance on support for Windows XP, with many people asking others to upgrade to newer Windows releases. But as an individual add-on author and a contributor to NVDA screen reader project, I would like to take this time to make the following personal announcement:
Effective April 15, 2020, if you ask me to do one or more of the following for Windows XP users, the answer you will get is, “sorry, no more, period.” These include:
- Making add-ons compatible with Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista, and Server 2008
- Fixing compatibility issues and non-working add-ons after you knowingly install newer add-on releases on NVDA 2017.3 or earlier
- Backporting features and bug fixes from newer NVDA releases to NVDA 2017.3
- Maintaining a long-term support version of NVDA for Windows XP/Server 2003/Vista/Server 2008 users
Most importantly, I will flatly say “no” if you ask me privately to ask NV Access and/or add-on developers about Windows XP support. Many features introduced in newer NVDA releases cannot be backported for various reasons, including risk of crashing NVDA (grammar error announcement, for example), incompatibility with Python 2 (broader Unicode support, for example), features that will not work properly with XP (screen curtain, for example), support for apps no longer recommended for wider use (outlook Express, for example), and broad changes that alters how add-ons work (speech refactor and multi-category settings dialog, for example). Several add-on authors have indicated reluctance to support XP, and in case of add-ons I’m either maintaining or have passed onto the community, none of them support NVDA 2019.2.1 or earlier, let alone Windows XP and friends.
My personal statement above will not be in effect until April so that you can help others going through COVID-19 and for my statement as an individual developer to sink in. Note that I’m not speaking on behalf of other developers – others have their own policies regarding support for Windows XP. NV Access does provide a download link for NVDA 2017.3, the last version compatible with Windows XP.
I know my statement is a huge blow to many of you. As much as I wanted folks to understand that end of support means end of support, and I understand that many of you cannot afford newer equipment and software releases (including moving to newer Windows releases), I felt it is time to make a bold statement and say “no” to Windows XP support. In the past, I did note on various NVDA forums that my add-ons will not and does not support Windows XP, but didn’t announce a statement like this then, hoping that folks will understand the reality at last. But alas, it is time to officially close the doors to Windows XP support from my end – once again, this is an individual developer saying this, not on behalf of the community at large, knowing that others will make statements on their own.
Thank you for understanding.