From a .Net programmer perspective, what are the consequences of still sticking with Windows XP despite there are Windows Vista, 7 and very soon 8? How does having windows XP limit programmers development in .Net platform?

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    FYI, Microsoft announced a few months ago that they intend to support XP as an operating system until 2014 and at that point will stop providing security updates and service packs. It is not an immediate concern yet, but it would be a good idea for companies to start thinking of migration strategies in the next couple of years. – maple_shaft Sep 23 '11 at 11:04
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    The ugly part is the .NET. If you'd say you program in C/C++, Python or anything, I would say it's not that bad, because if you write clear logic you can port that to MacOS, Linux or Windows next. Since it's .NET... Then again, .NET changes every year or so, you'll have to relearn everything for W8 again. XAML-reloaded or something @ .NET 5 or 6 or whatever. – Coder Sep 23 '11 at 12:42
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    @Coder - You don't heave to "relearn" everything, you only have to learn what has changed, and that normally is a small set of features. Most of the time they extend the .NET Framework to include additional features for example Tasks. – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:47
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    @Coder: Windows XP is not confined to .NET 1.1. Where I work, we have several machines running Windows XP, and .NET Framework 3.5 runs just fine on them. Your claims about the .NET framework are not defensible; it sounds like you don't use the .NET Framework, and therefore don't have any actual experience with it. – Robert Harvey Sep 23 '11 at 15:28
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    @Coder: Its actually easier in the land of .net (which brings its own yummy run-time system that insulates things) where you only need to learn and use if you choose the extensions. Writing native Win32 applications is a whole lot more painful migration - for example as Win32 has changed you will find that applications written for Vista or Win7 may not run on XP - if you use API calls that don't exist in XP. For that reason, if you want to support XP and above I find it preferable to develop on XP and test on the others. XP is sort of lowest common denominator. – quickly_now Sep 24 '11 at 2:27

The latest .NET frameworks will not run on windows XP, nor would Visual Studio 2011 be a supported option (it will probably work, but if you have problems, you are on your own).

You will not be able to create any metro applications as WinRT will also not be part of XP, ever (there is no way MS would backport a whole new OS API to an unsupported OS).

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    Which .NET framework will be incompatible with XP? 5.0? – Konrad Morawski Sep 23 '11 at 10:20
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    @Morawski - I expect 4.5 and above to not be supported on XP. – Oded Sep 23 '11 at 10:24
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    @Oded Do you have any citations for .NET 4.5 and XP? I can't imagine why it wouldn't be supported. – M. Dudley Sep 23 '11 at 12:22
  • @emddudley - There is a really good reason for it not to be supported, it will no longer recieve security updates in 2014. This means within 12-24 months after Visual Studio 2011 is released it will be on an operating system thats not supported at all. – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:49
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    It is already true that running vs2010 on winXP has serious performance issues. – daniloquio Sep 23 '11 at 13:31

Support. That's what will be removed by Microsoft.

Most likely, the lack of security updates will become a (larger) problem.

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    You could make this answer better (and make the Internet in general, and this site in particular a better place) by posting actual information, instead of these bike-shedding one-liners. – Robert Harvey Sep 23 '11 at 15:37
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    @Robert -- I like concise answers. – Christopher Mahan Sep 23 '11 at 15:45
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    @RobertHarvey: What more can one say? The very idea of "Microsoft Windows Support" is considered by some to be subjective or argumentative or both. What would help you understand this? What's missing? Please provide a suggestion instead of a complaint. – S.Lott Sep 23 '11 at 16:59
  • Was it ever added by Microsoft? :P – riwalk Sep 23 '11 at 22:15
  • @Stargazer712: "added"? No idea. "charged for"? Absolutely. Was there a service commensurate with the fee? Argumentative. Will the service end? Absolutely. – S.Lott Sep 23 '11 at 23:49

Security - XP had some huge ingraned security flaws that were fixed by longhorn. XP was written before the internet or viruses became as big as they are now

Productivity - Simple things like having a searchable task bar save you a couple of seconds every time you need to launch a new application.

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  • I believe the question is specifically about consequences regarding .NET development, though your points are good too. – Oded Sep 23 '11 at 10:37
  • @Oded My reading of it was more genral but yeh you might be right. Productivity still stands though – Tom Squires Sep 23 '11 at 10:48
  • Big is relative, but when Windows 95 came out there was an Internet with plenty of viruses. McAfee Associates was founded in 1989. – JeffO Sep 23 '11 at 12:10
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    -1 for "XP was written before the internet or viruses became big" – Craige Sep 23 '11 at 14:31
  • @Crage -- how so? XP (at least in it's orginal form) was a prettied up version of Windows 2000 which dated from the 1990s before the internet got anywhere near as big as it is. – Wyatt Barnett Sep 23 '11 at 18:52

Your question raises a few questions of its own. What hardware do you have at the moment? Do you have any desire or ability (financial primarily) to upgrade? What are you coding as a hobbyist, games? Web sites? utilities?

Windows 7 is a worthy upgrade to Windows XP simply because you can happily run with more than 3 GB of memory. In use it's nicer than XP, a good incremental improvement. On the development side, well IE9 is Windows 7 or above only, so if you're doing ASP.NET stuff that could be a consideration. It runs happily on everything I've put it on, so I have it on Netbooks with ickle processors and 1 GB right through to 12 GB i7 based desktops. Generally I think it's a worthy upgrade you'd like, but it doesn't affect you too much as a developer unless you want the latest and greatest.

Windows 8 is still a year away, but you can download the developer preview which includes an early version of Visual Studio Express 2012. You can download that and install it in VirtualBox (didn't work for me in vmware, didn't try virtual PC). It will give you an idea of where they are going. Windows 8 is different, the whole operating system stack is different from WinRT through to Metro apps. It will still run legacy (I.e. your stuff) though.

I've tried to include some extra information that doesn't directly answer your question but might help you ask a different question. It really depends on what you're developing. For info, I'm at work at the moment using Visual Studio 2010 on an XP machine. The Windows 7 roll out will happen over the next 12 months or so at least and we're actually ahead of a lot of similar companies (banks). My neighbour's PC uses XP and she has no reason to upgrade. I installed Chrome which she now uses instead of IE and suddenly the machine is "10 times faster, what did you do you amazing person you!" etc etc.

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  • I'm running IE9 on Vista without problems. – Peter Taylor Sep 23 '11 at 12:30
  • "Windows 7 is a worthy upgrade to Windows XP simply because you can happily run with more than 3 gig or memory." - This is only true if your running on a x64 version of Windows 7. Of course if your running Windows XP x64 this is also true. – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:51
  • @Peter Taylor - That is because IE9 is supported by Vista and Windows 7. I would guess by the time IE10 is released it will only support Windows 7 and Windows 8. Of course this has more to do with the fact Vista's support cycle would be near its end of life. – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:53
  • @Ramhound, you don't need to tell me that I didn't have to hack anything to get IE9 working. My memory's bad, but not that bad. – Peter Taylor Sep 23 '11 at 13:00
  • I've never thought of 64bit Windows XP as viable. It never worked properly for me when I tried it, I always felt like it was actually a different operating system skinned to be XP. Sounds mad I know, but that's how it feels when applications just won't work or drivers aren't available or... – Ian Sep 23 '11 at 16:26

If you're a software developer (vs. web developer), you may have another concern: Windows XP is old, it has an old UI, not a very good user experience, etc.

People are usually inspired by the software they use when creating their own. For example when it comes to designers, most very bad web designers I knew were using more often the very bad quality websites, not the professional ones. The ones who used for example Stack Exchange websites regularly used to do a more professional user-friendly websites design. The ones who used websites like Apple.com had the best designs. In the same way, a person who never used a touch screen will not think at optimizing his application for touch.

As a result, if you still use Windows XP and no other operating systems, you may have a risk to start creating Windows XP style applications from the visual design point of view which, in 2011, is not appreciated too much.

You can of course reduce this risk by either use regularly other operating systems (for example Windows XP at home and the latest MacOS at work), or be always up-to-date about how the new software is done, including by watching webcasts.

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    You do realise that your tl-dr section is only 20 words shorter than the rest of your answer don't you? *8') – Mark Booth Sep 23 '11 at 12:47
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    MainMa - While you make a very good point about application design. One would be foolish if they didn't take into account other operating systems other then whats on the developer's machine. It would also be a bad idea to only support the "current" operating system, which means if you only have a Metro UI application you might miss, everyone else on Vista and Windows 7. – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:56
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    @MarkBooth- Isn't it actually longer? – Ramhound Sep 23 '11 at 12:57
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    I think he's using "tl-dr" as "stuff you can skip" rather than "summary". – Random832 Sep 23 '11 at 18:36

As of today, I don't see any glaring issues. When I rode on the train, there were plenty of corporate laptop users running XP (At least that's what the sticker said.).

Our company is still on XP (a computer I frequently use remotely) and I use Windows 7 at home. Newer versions of Office seem to run better on Windows 7. We had a couple users that created gargantuan Excel files (The screwed one up so bad, MS couldn't fix it.), so the company bought them 64 bit versions with tons of memory.

If there is a hardware upgrade in your future, make the leap to Windows 7.

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The biggest boon, outside of a things like security and a decade worth of kernel improvements, is having IIS7 locally. If you are doing web development on XP then you are stuck on IIS5 and at worst you should be deploying to IIS6 (Windows Server 2003) if not IIS7 (Windows Server 2008). And IIS 5/6 are entirely different beasts than IIS7.

This probably matters a bit less with IIS express about, but there are sometimes where IIS express don't quite cut the mustard and you need a more full-blown native stack. Especially when debugging strange IIS-related issues. Things like simulating app pool permissions are a bit tougher there.

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  • Umm... Your second paragraph makes little sense, unless you meant to day IIS7 Express. – Kevin Cathcart Sep 23 '11 at 16:57

Fairly soon you will find that the latest versions of programming tools won't run on Win XP, or if they do they will be sub-optimal in some way.

As an example from my website: In just under 3 weeks, out of 850 downloads for a new .NET tool, just 4 were for XP. There's little incentive therefore to keep doing a specific XP build/test. There have been a lot more downloads for the Windows 8 (dev preview) optimised build than for XP and Win 8 has only been out a week. Note: This case isn't quite a fair comparison, because the XP tool version requires an msi installation instead of a .exe which needed no install, this probably deterred some XP users.

The fact that the latest tools won't run optimially on your XP machine, may not be an issue for you There must be a lot of XP users/programmers out there still, but many probably already have the tool set they need.

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