32-bit Windows Builds

This topic is something I forgot to bring up for discussion at the maintainers meeting today.

How important is it to continue supporting 32-bit Windows?

if it was sourceforge hosted it would have public facing download statistics to see how much pull they get. I assume there no easy way to get such things for the gnu ftpmirror downloads?

Correct, there’s no way to get download stats from ftp.gnu.org or mirrors.

(fyi) gnuplot stopped making 32-bit windows releases in 2019.

It is probably save to assume that no halfway modern hardware is running a 32bit Windows OS natively currently.
I’m not sure if we want to take Windows on ARM devices into consideration here. Afaict, that version of Windows (running on Microsoft’s Surface or similar devices by other manufactures) comes with an emulation layer for i686 software. It can’t run x86_64 software.
We aren’t providing a version of Octave that would run natively on Windows on ARM currently. If we stopped providing i686 builds, there wouldn’t be versions of Octave that could be executed on those devices.
While Windows on ARM is actively supported by MS, it is not in very wide-spread use. I don’t know how many users (if any) are actually using Octave on such devices.
If continuing to provide installers for Windows i686 hinders the development in some way, it is probably ok to discontinue supporting these devices.
If it “just” because Windows i686 is “old”, I’d prefer that we could continue providing that version. At least until we can offer an alternative for those devices.

Source: Windows on ARM - UWP applications | Microsoft Docs

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OK, I don’t object to continuing to provide the 32-bit Windows builds.

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Maybe deprecate the 32-bits builds? For example, state that Octave-7.x will be the last release with 32-bit builds?

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One of the big missing pieces for Windows on ARM support is the Fortran compiler: Flang is still at its infancy, so there are no clang32/clang64 builds of Octave on msys2. Once those are working well for most/all msys2 packages, my guess clangarm64 is in the plan next and it should be possible for the MXE installer to follow suit, no?