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Re: [hackers] Which Visual Studio versions are in active use?

On Fri, Mar 17, 2023 at 10:51 AM Martin Burnicki
<martin.burnicki@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Dave Hart wrote:
> > I'm not sure what the technical
> > reason for dropping XP support in newer compiler toolchains is, but I
> > suspect there were multiple reasons having to do with things like
> > assuming a higher baseline of processor features like SSE2.  It's hard
> > to complain about Microsoft's backwards compatibility for dropping
> > support for building binaries for Windows XP as of VS 2019 about a
> > dozen years after the release of Windows Vista, particularly given
> > even with VS 2022 IDE you can still build XP-compatible binaries by
> > installing optional older toolchains.
> But why do I need one specific toolchain for each Windows version, and
> even different compilers for user space and kernel space, instead of
> having a single compiler where I can specify the minimum supported CPU,
> like i386, i586, or i686?

It's a different toolchain for each compiler version, not Windows
version.  I suspect the reason for dropping support for Windows XP in
newer compilers is to allow the compiler to assume a higher baseline
of processor features in its code generation.  The latest compilers
can assume the processor features required by Windows Vista.  Yes,
Microsoft could have the latest compiler able to generate code for
WinXP with a compiler switch, but that means maintaining and ongoing
testing of code generation for a vanishingly small fraction of the
Windows machines in use today.  Still, they provide the option to
build for WinXP with the latest Visual Studio release, with a bit of
hassle installing the optional older toolchains.

Even if you don't use it right away, please consider installing the
Visual Studio 2022 Community Edition and the older toolchains I
mentioned, as I am concerned that the next major VS release will no
longer have the option to install the VS 2015 (v140) and VS 2017 for
XP (v141) needed to target WinXP.  Installing it now will future-proof
you to be able to switch to using it later, and once you do, we can
hopefully stop maintaining the ports/winnt/vs2008 files.

Dave Hart
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