Windows XP was released in 2001, making it over 12 years old. Microsoft aren't going to support it forever, and so support for Windows XP ends on April 8th. If you are still on Windows XP, it's definitely time to upgrade. Newer versions of Windows are more secure, more reliable, have better compatibility, and also have additional benefits for Construct 2 users. After Windows XP support ends, it will become increasingly insecure and less well supported.
Why upgrade off XP?
There are some variations in Construct 2's support across versions of Windows. If you've only ever used it on Windows XP, here are some of the differences:
- Windows 7 and newer can encode AAC audio for you when importing audio. As you probably know, two audio formats are required to support all browsers: MPEG-4 AAC (.m4a) and Ogg Vorbis (.ogg). This is because browser makers can't agree on one format. AAC is a patent-encumbered format, and due to licensing restrictions we don't ship an AAC encoder with Construct 2. Instead, Windows 7 and newer have their own built-in AAC encoders which we use. However on Windows XP and Vista this means you only get the .ogg files encoded, and need to encode the .m4a files yourself.
- There are some UI improvements: on Windows XP, Construct 2 only shows normal messageboxes. However on Vista and above it uses the new style "command dialogs", which look better, are cleare and easier to read, provide more information, and often have additional buttons providing useful options you might want to use.
- Using a newer version of Windows can mean better graphics card drivers are available. Old graphics card drivers can cause crashes and glitches in Construct 2, and can also mean you don't get WebGL support or it falls back to a very slow software renderer. According to statistics from Firefox, only about 33% of XP users get WebGL support, compared to 92% of Windows 7 users. This may be because newer versions of Windows also correlate with newer and better-supported hardware, but using a newer version of Windows probably does still make it more likely that better drivers are available.
- Newer versions of Windows also support newer Internet Explorer versions. The latest version of IE which Windows XP supports is IE8, which is such a relic it does not even support HTML5 games! Testing in multiple browsers is a best practice which we strongly recommend. Judging from many bug reports lots of users don't bother, which is less helpful for bug reporting and also risky for publishing since you haven't checked how the game will run for users of other browsers. Chrome and Firefox may well be better browsers, but IE is still a major browser used by millions of people and therefore ought to be tested with. However you cannot test in IE on Windows XP. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (but curiously not Windows 8.0) also support IE11 which has WebGL support - an important feature for some games.
- Windows 8 and 8.1 allow you to test your Windows Store apps locally.
- Windows XP is very commonly 32-bit only, which means even with a 64-bit CPU you can only use a maximum of 4GB of RAM. Newer versions of Windows have better 64-bit support, meaning you can use more RAM and have a faster and more capable system. You can also use the 64-bit version of Construct 2. It is functionally identical to the 32-bit one, but will play more nicely with other programs that want to use lots of memory.
There are some other problems you may run in to in the long term:
- Just as no modern browsers support Windows 95, browsers will likely eventually drop support for Windows XP. You might end up left with an out of date browser which cannot use the latest features.
- Without security or stability updates, your system may be less secure and less reliable.
- Windows XP is increasingly difficult for us to support with Construct 2. While we still plan to support XP for the foreseeable future, in some cases we may decline to address difficult or mysterious bugs which only manifest in Windows XP. An example of this is the "cog" logo does not appear in the About dialog in Windows XP. We don't really know why, and we don't think it's worth the trouble of spending time investigating and resolving the issue for an ageing operating system (particularly with a minor issue like that). We will of course endeavour to fix any serious issues that manifest only on Windows XP, but with some types of issue we may simply recommend to use a newer version of Windows.
Which version of Windows should you get?
Windows 8 has been a somewhat controversial update. Personally I can recommend Windows 8.1 - you can set it to boot directly to the desktop and it brings the start menu button back, so it actually feels like a traditional desktop OS which just happens to have a full-screen Start menu. It's also really useful to have Windows 8.1 to test Windows Store apps (you can run both 8.0 and 8.1 apps on it). However if you don't like it and don't care about Windows Store apps, Windows 7 is still a solid choice - it still supports key features like AAC encoding, command dialogs and IE11.
Why not support other OSs like Mac and Linux?
We are asked this constantly! We are well aware of many user's desire to use Construct 2 on their favourite OS. Unfortunately we just don't have the resources to take on a port right now. However we are definitely considering what we can do about this in our long-term plans and do hope to address it eventually. Also my intent is not to sound like a salesman for Windows, but to point out some of the real advantages for Construct 2 users of using at least Windows 7 or newer.
Time to upgrade
12 years is an aeon in the world of technology, but that's how old XP is. It's like using Windows 95 in 2007. Microsoft's support ends in two months, so if you are able to upgrade, it would be wise to start planning it now. And if you upgrade, hopefully you will also enjoy the perks of better support that come with a newer version of Windows.