Visual FoxPro End of Life

When Mark Twain learned that his obituary had been published before he died, he famously quipped, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Might that also be said about Visual FoxPro? It is true that Microsoft announced its decision to stop VFP development several years ago. Visual FoxPro 9 (VFP9) was the last release. Microsoft no longer provides enhancements or bug fixes for this programming software. Nor do they guarantee that Visual FoxPro applications will continue running.

But just because VFP has reached end of life status does not necessarily mean that FoxPro is dead, or that your VFP application will stop running. Many companies still use VFP applications to drive their business. In fact, some of our customers are still running older versions of FoxPro—all the way back to version 2.6. These apps were written 20+ years ago and continue to perform the functions they were designed for.

But VFP will eventually reach the end of a very successful lifespan.

Why? Two reasons:

  • Today's computers, servers, networking equipment and software applications all use a 64-bit architecture. Visual FoxPro runs as a 32-bit application. Even though Windows 10 is a 64-bit operating system, it runs 32-bit applications just fine – at least for now. Like VFP, Windows 10 itself has an 'End of Life' date. Microsoft will discontinue extended support for Windows 10 in 2025. So it's likely your VFP application probably has at least a few years before it refuses to run on future operating systems and equipment.

  • The number of VFP programmers is declining quickly. As the years roll along, many skilled FoxPro veterans have retired. Many others have already moved on to other programming languages. So finding competent programmers will only become more difficult as time goes by.
The bottom line is this: even though your VFP applications run fine today, it would be wise to start planning to migrate.

What should we do now?

You have several options:

  • Do nothing. This might be a valid choice if your company doesn't depend on the software in order to stay in business.

  • Migrate to an off-the-shelf solution which meets most of your needs.

  • Migrate your custom application to a new development platform. This process can be staged in phases. For example, some of our clients start by migrating their data to a server database (for example, SQL Server, PostgreSQL or MySQL). The user interface continues to use the familiar VFP forms and reports. Later, they migrate the user interface to a C# desktop application or to a web-based front end. This approach helps spread the cost of migration over a longer period of time.

The risk of doing nothing

Even now, it’s possible that a Windows security update could cause your FoxPro application to stop working. Oh, there would probably be workarounds—but if this happens you may open your company up to other security issues.

Are you unsure of which option makes the most sense for your company? Take advantage of our free initial consultation to discus which pathway(s) would work best for you.

Contact us for an objective, no-obligation discussion of your needs and wishes.