Windows XP was a great operating system, but it's also 17 years old, and its best days are long, long behind it. And on January 1, 2019, Valve will finally pull the plug, and send the old boy off to OS heaven.
"Starting on January 1 2019, Steam will officially stop supporting the Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. This means that after that date the Steam Client will no longer run on those versions of Windows," Valve announced today. "In order to continue running Steam and any games or other products purchased through Steam, users will need to update to a more recent version of Windows."
The problem is that Steam relies on an embedded version of Google Chrome to operate, and Chrome doesn't run on older versions of Windows anymore either. Upcoming versions of Steam will also be dependent upon Windows features and security updates that aren't supported in versions of Windows that predate Windows 7.
Windows XP and Vista users will be able to launch games through Steam until the end of the year, but other functionality will be less certain. The new Steam Chat client, for instance, won't be available to XP and Vista users. "We encourage all users on these operating systems to upgrade to newer versions of Windows in order to have ongoing access to the latest features of Steam, and to ensure future access to all games and other Steam content," Valve said.
Sentimentally sad though the looming loss of XP support may be (not Vista though, nobody's going to miss that), the good news is that it's not going to cause major upheaval: The latest Steam hardware survey indicates that 0.22 percent of Steam users are running Windows XP 32-bit—a decline of 0.03 percent—and Windows Vista isn't even on the list.