Important announcement on Joseph Lee's add-ons: please upgrade to NVDA 2022.2 ASAP, support policy changes
Hope you are enjoying NVDA 2022.2. But even then, let us not forget that we are in the midst of a pandemic, conflicts abound, and things are uncertain at this moment.
The following notice applies to people using Add-on Updater and Windows App Essentials as this amounts to a major add-on support policy notice:
As folks may know, throughout July I have worked on Project Meteor, a project to rewrite vast parts of Add-on Updater which became part of version 22.08. But that wasn’t the only thing in my mind: I kept coming back to the question of how to support people using soon to be unsupported Windows releases, and I keep hearing rumors about changes to Windows development plan from Microsoft. Adding to the mix is latest changes to NVDA source code, specifically preparations being made for NVDA 2022.3 beta. After assessing the situation and analyzing recent add-on support plans I made, I decided that consistency is better than complicating things for users. Therefore, I announce three major changes to support policy for Add-on Updater and Windows App Essentials: one for Add-on Updater, two for Windows App Essentials.
First, both add-ons will require NVDA 2022.2 this September. Typically I support up to two past NVDA stable releases, more so for Windows App Essentials. However, given that important parts of Windows App Essentials are now part of NVDA (as of 2022.2), I believe that it makes sense to standardize around 2022.2, both for consistency and to reduce maintenance burden. Therefore, instead of 2022.1, Windows App Essentials will ask you to use 2022.2 starting from September (likely with 22.09).
Second, after considering maintenance burden and complexity, I’m scrapping Add-on Updater Nightlight altogether. Nightlight, meant to provide minimal service on Windows 7 and 8.1, consist of two parts: turning off automatic updates, and disallowing development add-on releases. This means apart from features requiring Windows 10 and 11, folks using old Windows releases will be able to continue to check for add-on updates and can instruct NVDA to do so automatically and/or update to development builds. But please remember: once Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 and 8.1 (the latter for everyone in January 2023), you are on your own – I will not provide new features specific to old Windows releases from January 2023 onwards, so consider this a feature freeze announcement for Windows 7 and 8.1.
Third, regarding Windows App Essentials, a prominent tech press cited by other sources indicate that Microsoft might be changing Windows development schedule. Details are uncertain, but if this is correct, it can bring a major change to Windows as a Service (WaaS) concept. If this change does become real, it can lead to a situation where it becomes possible to add changes to a Windows 11 feature update just prior for it being discontinued for consumers (unlikely but possible), and changes will be more frequent. For Windows App Essentials, this means it becomes harder to plan when to drop a feature update (tentative plan is to end support for Windows 10 November 2021 Update and Windows 11 original release in March and July 2023, respectively, a few months prior to end of consumer support), making my life a bit harder as well. Therefore for sake of consistency and to respond to rumored changes to Windows development schedule, as well as to prepare the way for someone to maintain this add-on if I do end maintenance for it, I’m changing feature update support duration so it aligns with consumer support duration (18 months for Windows 10, two years for Windows 11); for example, with this policy change, end of support for Windows 10 November 2021 Update will be June 2023 instead of March 2023; as always, development snapshots will ask you to upgrade to newer feature updates a few months prior. While this change takes effect with upcoming 22H2 feature updates, I’ll apply this policy change to 21H2 releases for consistency. The only exception is the very last feature update for Windows 10 which will be supported until end of 2025 (officially until October 2025 but a grace period will be added) provided that I’m still maintaining the add-on by then.
The key takeaway is this: for users of Joseph Lee’s add-ons, please upgrade to NVDA 2022.2 no later than end of August 2022, preferably as soon as possible (by the way, add-ons compatible with NVDA 2022.1 are also compatible with 2022.2, and some add-ons might be using features from 2022.2 for various things). For folks using Windows App Essentials development builds, NVDA 2022.2 requirement will take effect with the second snapshot of August (next week).