Thursday about noon the Lab announced some of the things that will be changing in Second Life™ viewers. We know viewers will change. But, never exactly what change is coming. See: Important Viewer Evolution Update.
Most of the changes mentioned, we know about.
The viewer’s built in web browser is changing over to Chromium Embedded Frame work. So, it is basically a new browser, like Firefox or Chrome. This affects lots of things inside the viewer, search, profiles, etc. Most importantly it is part of the frame changing how streaming media is handled. There is an RC version of this change on the Alternate Viewers Page.
The avatars are changing and the RC version of the Project Bento Viewer is out, also on the Alt Viewer page.
Big news for many is ‘official’ mention of a 64-bit viewer. We are starting to hear it turn up more often in Linden speak. The Lindens are encouraging users to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system. No word on how long they will support 32-bit systems after they have a 64-bit viewer out. I expect 32-bit support to drop relatively quickly after the 64-bit version goes mainstream.
But, none of that is really new news. Probably more impactful and the purpose of the announcement is the dropping of support for older versions of Mac and Windows operating systems. Windows Vista is done. Mac 10.9 and older is done. You may be able to use them but, the Lindens will stop accepting bug reports on those and older versions. No more fixes for those versions.
With this announcement they have also updated the Second Life System Requirements. The only change I see is the operating system versions.
I suppose they are trying to make the news older systems will no longer be supported as soft as possible… like it is possible.
With desktop Intel Core i5 2nd Gen., 3GHz, 8GB RAM, and 1.5TB drive PC Desktop going for US$150 (w/Windows) and Windows 10 Pro selling for $20, it probably is time for an upgrade.
What will this mean in the third party viewer realm? I suspect those developers like Firestorm that already have a 64-bit viewer out will shift away from their 32-bit versions. Those without a 64-bit version will release one. The obstacle has been only 32-bit libraries were provided by the Lab. With 64-bit libraries available it will be easier to make a 64-bit viewer. Since several developers are single person ‘teams’… single person developers… they will develop for one or the other, 32 or 64. Some that develop a viewer for their personal use will develop 32 or 64 based on personal preference.
Some will make decisions about providing 32 & 64-bit versions based on resources available verses problems encountered. Those of us running 64-bit with <=16GB of RAM are not crashing. Read that as, not having problems, not complaining as much, and not reporting as many bugs. Some at the Bento meeting said they have not crashed in over a year. Supporting 32-bit is going to requires resources, patience, and a dedication to a dying class of operating system. 32-bit systems are being left behind as they are limited and a PITA. Developers willing to support 32-bit systems are rare and their numbers are likely to decrease. The writing is on the wall…
Upgrade or learn to compile 32-bit to build your own…