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End of support for 32-bit editor for Windows

November 15, 2016 in Technology | 3 min. read
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Today we are announcing that Unity 5.6 will be the last release to ship with 32-bit builds of the editor for Windows.  Read on to learn more about our reasoning behind this decision, and for further details on what to expect.

For some time we have been thinking about when would be the right time to deprecate and ultimately end support for 32-bit versions of the Unity editor.  Two years ago, the arrival of the 64-bit editor let most users deal with previous resource constraints and memory limitation issues; however there are still legacy 32-bit native plugins that keep some users behind.  Even with that, it won’t come as a surprise to many to learn that usage of Unity on 32-bit Windows is pretty low compared to other OSs, and furthermore that it has been declining over the past few years.  Additionally, as this OS continues to age, our cost of supporting it continues to rise.

We already knew that usage of Unity on 32-bit Windows was low, but naturally we wanted to back up any decision to drop support with hard data, so we dived into our telemetry database in order to extract and analyse statistics on a couple of fronts:

  • Comparing overall editor starts between 32-bit and 64-bit, we confirmed that use on 32-bit has declined steadily from 6.2% 12 months ago to 4.7% today.
  • And if we look at the number of unique users on each type of build for the last 30 days we see very similar numbers: just 5.6% on 32-bit.

Having had the numbers confirm our suspicions we wanted to reach out to the community to get a feel for the reception we would get from dropping support for 32-bit Windows editor.  Overall the feedback was very positive:

  • We ran a poll on our forums and out of 471 votes, only 11 (2.7%) were cast in favour of the 32-bit editor.
  • No concerns whatsoever were raised on our Alpha users’ group.
  • On our Beta users’ group the feedback was also largely positive, with some of you even surprised that we still had a 32-bit editor build!  One noteworthy issue was raised, concerning the fact that that some users are running custom 32-bit only plugins for Unity, and would have to either update those plugins or stay on the final 32-bit version of the editor.  Of course, our plan was always going to include a timetable for transition, more on this later.

Overall the data and sampled user sentiment are compelling enough for us to call time on support for 32-bit Windows editor, which as mentioned earlier is starting to become more and more of a burden to maintain.

So what happens next?

Editor for Windows 32-bit will be included in Unity 5.5 and in 5.6, but not in future mainline releases.  All 5.6 patches and roll-ups will of course continue to include it, and we are fully committed to providing full support for 32-bit Windows throughout the 5.6 lifetime.

I use 32-bit plugins, what are my options?

32-bit plugins for legacy hardware appear to be the one potential sticking point for some users, but it is therefore worth highlighting that they will still work with the 32-bit player, which will continue to be available beyond 5.6: it is only the 32-bit editor build that will be going away.  Also worthy of mention is the fact that Vuforia, one of the most popular plugins on 32-bit, is now available for 64-bit.

I use the 32-bit editor, what are my options?

Users running editor on 32-bit Windows will simply need to consider whether to stay on 5.6 (or earlier), or will need to plan to convert to 64-bit in the coming months.

We hope that this announcement gives our users of 32-bit sufficient time to consider their options and make plans accordingly.

Edit: A previous version of this post mistakenly suggested the Linux Editor would be in the official 5.6 release.

November 15, 2016 in Technology | 3 min. read
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