After five years of dedicated support, WordPress will be leaving PHP 4 and MySQL 4 behind for the far more current and secure PHP 5 and MySQL 5. WordPress 3.2, planned to launch during the first half of 2011, will be the first release to require PHP 5.2 or higher and MySQL 5.0.15 or higher.
The change really comes as no surprise. Both PHP 5 and MySQL 5 are far more secure than their predecessors and they are actively developed. How long has it been since an update was made to PHP 4 and MySQL 4? The final version of PHP 4 was released during August of 2008, followed by the final version of MySQL 4 on December of 2008. Both PHP 4 and MySQL 4 have been discontinued for almost two years.
The WordPress team is confident that the change in requirements will be relatively inconsequential. According to Mark Jaquith, “Only around 11 percent of WordPress installs are running on a PHP version below 5.2 [and] fewer than 6 percent of WordPress users are running MySQL 4.” Mr. Jaquith adds that most users running a PHP version less than 5.2 belong to hosting providers which actually support PHP 5.2 or higher. These users may have the ability to enabled PHP 5 via their hosting provider’s control panel or request to be moved to a server with PHP 5.2 or higher and MySQL 5.0.15 or higher.
Arguably, some hosting providers still swear by PHP 4 and MySQL 4, but considering that both Drupal and Joomla will sport similar requirements later this year, many will be forced to finally offer PHP 5 and MySQL 5. If your hosting provider insists on forcing you to use a PHP and MYSQL version that has been discontinued for almost two years, consider the cliché “there are many fish in the sea” and find a new hosting provider.
Hot on the heels of this announcement is the new Health Check plugin which will immediately confirm your server’s WordPress 3.2 compliance upon activation. The plugin will be receiving several additional features in the near future, but for now it should provide peace of mind for most of you regarding the impending change in WordPress’ requirements.