When FoxPro was first introduced in 1989 it was pretty amazing. FoxPro combined a simple relational database with an adaptable programming language, which enabled developers to build and implement surprisingly powerful software applications very rapidly. Before long, FoxPro had become part of the Microsoft product family and took a new name: Visual FoxPro.
When it was announced that Microsoft Visual FoxPro would be updated with its 9.0 version in 2005, the news was greeted with some excitement. The Visual FoxPro 9.0 update was FoxPro’s most modern upgrade: it boasted the capability for developers to potentially create .NET compatible solutions that could use XML web services and exchange data with Microsoft’s SQL Server. It started to look (to some) like Microsoft was preparing Visual FoxPro for a bright future on the ‘world wide web’ of 2005.
Just two years later, in 2007, Microsoft announced that Visual FoxPro 9.0 would be the final version, with no further updates and limited Microsoft support of FoxPro available.
The final version to be released was Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0, in 2004 (and updated in 2007). However, by this time it had already been recognized that Microsoft support for FoxPro (and other software products) needed to follow emerging trends. Businesses and individuals were starting to use and pay for software in a new way: the subscription model.
In addition to this change in strategy, Visual FoxPro was starting to become a refuge for ‘holdouts’ who weren’t migrating to Microsoft’s other relational database product: Microsoft SQL Server. Users of VFP were simply not motivated to move towards the more expensive (and more capable) SQL product, which required use of the .NET framework. They were perfectly happy with their straightforward business applications that used simple business rules, easy programming, and DBF databases to generate complex services and processes. Many of those FoxPro users are still perfectly happy with their VFP software applications.
However, Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy was now becoming a standard for all software products that were originally available through retail purchase or volume licensing. This policy helps ensure the long-term support for Microsoft products. It supports a leaner business model that isn’t indefinitely shackled to an aging portfolio (and the accompanying support burden that comes with it).
Under Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy, software products would enjoy three tiers of support: Mainstream support (defined at time of release), Extended Support, and Beyond End of Support (for some products only).
Mainstream support for Visual FoxPro started on December 22nd, 2004 and ended on January 12th, 2010. In 2007, a Service Pack 2 update was released and this marked the final version of VFP. The minimum 5-year Mainstream Support applied to the original release date.
Extended support officially ended on January 13th 2015, however a VFP 9.0 Service Pack 2 Security Update was released in March 2021. This was not however due to Microsoft having a renewed interest in supporting Visual FoxPro, rather, according to the Security Bulletin, a vulnerability in Window’s common controls meant that VFP software (among others) could compromise an otherwise secure system and allow an external party to take control.
Now that extended support for VFP is long gone, what options are available for support? Unfortunately, the pickings are rather thin and there’s no substitute for ongoing support directly from the vendor. A developer can help you maintain your existing software, but this will only help solve real problems that arise, instead of preventing possible issues. Online forums can help identify common issues and possible fixes, but you need a good level of technical expertise to make use of these.
The harsh reality is that FoxPro is barely hanging on – the last guest at its own retirement party. Without new capabilities or ongoing support to guarantee secure operation, VFP software must be replaced or upgraded as a priority.
Many businesses want to know if you can run FoxPro on Windows 10 or Windows 11, and the answer may surprise you. Visual FoxPro runs on 32-bit, but new operating systems are typically 64-bit or higher. Windows 10 is available as either a 32-bit or 64-bit architecture. If you have the 64-bit version, you can still run 32-bit software like FoxPro on Windows 10 using a 32-bit emulator. Windows comes with the WOW64 emulator, which normally will take care of this juggling act without the user being aware of it.
However, Windows 11 is the first iteration to have no 32-bit version at all. It still uses the WOW64 emulator, but it’s a sign that we may be moving towards fewer machines being capable of handling 32-bit software in the future. Many applications still run on 32-bit, so the end isn’t that near just yet.
Regardless, users of VFP software should still start preparing for alternatives now.
Many of us have heard the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, business isn’t just about whether something ‘works’ or not – rather it’s about competition and advantage.
When your VFP software was new, it gave you the advantage of rapid, automated processes and accurate data-handling. But today, there are more options for this. Your business may also be missing out on new advantages, by not being able to adapt, offer new functionalities, or be accessible via smartphone or webapp.
Another perspective to consider: your VFP solution may be holding you back. Solutions can cause inefficiencies as staff are forced to work around your existing solution’s proclivities and limitations.
Visual FoxPro was designed for a different age, when the IT infrastructure was simpler and when security threats were less sophisticated than they are now. Today, multi-user situations are more common, and organizations are typically spread over multiple locations and regions. Staff are more likely to work remotely, and smartphones are a common piece of business hardware. Your software must cater for these needs, and be able to adapt for the future. How can your Visual FoxPro software become upgraded into a modern solution?
Read more about support of FoxPro and modern alternatives here.
For businesses, the priority must be to keep running smoothly without interruption. However, as Microsoft support for Visual FoxPro is no longer available, an unplanned interruption becomes increasingly likely.
To take control of their trajectory, businesses should consider enhancing or replacing their FoxPro software with a modern solution using Servoy. The Servoy platform can help rapidly build replacement software that preserves the core functionality of the existing solution, but gives the possibility for new tricks too.
Many companies use Servoy to entirely replace their FoxPro applications with reliable, modern alternatives that make their business fully prepared for using the cloud. These can include mobile apps and web portals. Servoy supports FoxPro database files (DBFs) as well as SQL and other data sources, untying the hands for businesses to use modern capabilities alongside well-established processes and data.
With a well-supported open-source framework, your new solution can stay constantly up-to-date, and easily add new functionalities including remote access, new data sources, and new supporting applications. To see how this works in practice, or to get more information, simply contact us – we’ll be happy to offer a demo and references from your industry.
No, unfortunately Microsoft no longer supports FoxPro – however it may issue further security patches if FoxPro makes Windows vulnerable to attack. It last did this in March 2021, even though support ended in 2015.
You can run Visual FoxPro on Windows 10, even if you have the 64-bit version, by using the WOW64 emulator. This will also work with Windows 11 (in theory), but as the gulf widens between legacy systems like FoxPro software and the newest architectures and technologies, you can expect a greater chance of problems in the future.
There are three options to upgrade your FoxPro software: 1.Buy an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution that does everything you need (expensive). 2. Develop a custom app from scratch (expensive, time consuming, doesn’t always work), or 3. You can build a modern upgrade around the old parts with the Servoy platform (fast, proven method).
Migrating FoxPro database files (DBFs) to SQL or another database format is relatively straightforward, and can be achieved using the VFP upsizing wizard or the SQL Server Integration Services – but ask yourself: why? You can continue using your FoxPro database files in DBF format if you are using a Servoy-built solution, and this can avoid a lot of headaches!