PHP released version 5.5.38 recently for their 5.5 branch. This effectively marks the end-of-life for PHP 5.5. Although they do leave the door open ever so slightly for future PHP 5.5 releases:
Note that according to our release schedule, PHP 5.5.38 is the last release of the PHP 5.5 branch. There may be additional release if we discover important security issues that warrant it, otherwise this release will be the final one in the PHP 5.5 branch.
What does this mean for us? Not a whole lot actually. We essentially skipped over PHP 5.5 as a default version and went straight from PHP 5.4 to PHP 5.6 as the default versions on our servers. This means that very few of our accounts are actually using PHP 5.5. For those that are using PHP 5.5 we aren’t going to change you immediately to PHP 5.6. Typically we try to offer a PHP version for a year after it’s last release, meaning that we would continue to offer PHP 5.5 through July 2017. I have not looked specifically at the numbers, but there are just very, very few of our accounts that using PHP 5.5. We’re probably not going to install PHP 5.5 on any server that doesn’t already have it. But if you are using PHP 5.5 you are safe likely for another year (an unpatched security hole in PHP 5.5 may change our timetable). But if you are using PHP 5.5, now would be a good time to start thinking about upgrading your scripts and systems to ones that support PHP 5.6 or perhaps higher.
This brings us to our current PHP offerings and schedule. Currently PHP is supporting PHP version 5.6 and PHP version 7.0. PHP 7.1 is in beta and may get a public release in the not to distant future. PHP 5.6 won’t go end-of-life until December 31, 2018. PHP 7.0 won’t go end-of-life until December 3, 2018. We aren’t currently offering PHP 7.0, mainly because Ioncube and Zend do not yet have encoder support for PHP 7. Adding PHP 7.0 support is on our list of server todos.
Because of the success we had with skipping PHP 5.5 as a default version, we are considering doing the same thing with PHP 7.0. PHP 5.6 still has a lifetime of over 2 years remaining. PHP 7.1 will probably be here before the end of 2016. It really just depends on how things go, but it’s looking like we will skip PHP 7.0 as a default version and go straight to PHP 7.1 as the default version successor to PHP 5.6. Like PHP 5.5 we will offer PHP 7.0, just not as a default version. When will we make a default PHP change? Not before Ioncube and Zend release loaders for PHP 7 or PHP 7.1.
None of this is really written in stone at this point, but this is our current line of thinking. It really depends on how adoption of PHP 7.0 and PHP 7.1 goes from the standpoint of script developers. Right now, adoption of PHP 7.0 is slow – again this may be because of the lack of Ioncube and Zendguard support. It may be that adoption of PHP 7.0 and PHP 7.1 remains low, allowing us to extend PHP 5.6 even longer until PHP 7.2 comes out. All of that just remains to be seen. But it is looking like we are going to skip PHP 7.0 as a default version.