Earlier this year, Blizzard said it was going to cease supporting Windows XP and Vista across its library of contemporary Battle.net games, and the company has just confirmed that this will happen on a rolling basis starting in October.
That means dropping support for World of Warcraft and StarCraft II, as well as Diablo III, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm (Overwatch never supported these outdated operating systems anyway).
So what, you might think? Well, as we saw with the recent WannaCry outbreak, there are still around one in 14 PCs out there running Windows XP (and a small amount still on Vista), despite the fact that Microsoft stopped supporting XP over three years ago now (and Vista earlier this year).
And of course, there are still some people playing some of these games on older machines with these outdated operating systems (depending on the exact spec of the old PC, they may run well enough). We certainly saw complaints earlier this year from World of Warcraft players on XP who heard this move was incoming and weren’t too chuffed.
That said, Blizzard has obviously balanced up the numbers of folks playing its games on these platforms, and the effort/cost of continuing to support XP and Vista, and decided it was time to call it game over.
As the company explains (opens in new tab): “There have been three major Windows releases since Vista, and at this point, the vast majority of our audience has upgraded to one of the newer versions.”
As mentioned, dropping support will be implemented on a rolling basis, in other words, a staggered schedule of one game at a time, rather than the whole lot at once. Blizzard says it will give folks a bit of advance warning of when a title is about to have support switched off.
Once that switch is flicked, the game in question will no longer run on Windows XP or Vista.
Even though this will come as a blow to some of the XP diehards out there, it’s true that given the age of this OS now, they should have been looking at a Windows upgrade some time back. Or perhaps a Linux sidestep (and emulation). If you’re connected to the net on a PC which isn’t receiving security patches, you really are taking a big risk.
Of course, this has also sparked chatter online concerning when Windows 7 might suffer the same fate, given the many stalwarts who have refused to upgrade to Windows 10 for a variety of reasons.
Microsoft’s extended support for Windows 7 will finish in 2020, so if you look at XP which has been abandoned three years after its extended date, that will put us in 2023 or thereabouts.
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