WordPress is officially dropping support for PHP 5 in the upcoming 6.3 release, which is expected on August 8. WordPress’ minimum supported version has sat at PHP 5.6.20 since 2019, but will be updated to 7.0.0 in the next release. The recommended PHP version will stay the same at 7.4+.
“The minimum supported version was last adjusted in WordPress 5.2 in 2019, and since then usage of PHP 5.6 has dropped to 3.9% of monitored WordPress installations as of July 2023,” WordPress core developer John Blackbourn said.
“There’s no concrete usage percentage that a PHP version must fall below before support in WordPress is dropped, but historically the project maintainers have used 5% as the baseline. Now that usage of PHP 5.6 is well below that at 3.9% and dropping by around 0.1% every few weeks, plans to increase the minimum supported PHP version can move forward.”
Blackbourn also emphasized that WordPress’ support for PHP 8.0, 8.1, and 8.2 is “very good” and contributors may soon act on a proposal for the criteria that would enable them to remove the “beta” support label on new PHP versions. Nearly 26% of WordPress users are already running sites on PHP 8.0+.
Prior to this minimum required version boost, some hosts had even taken matters into their own hands in urging users to get on newer versions of PHP. Dreamhost charges additional fees for sites that require extended support for PHP 7.4 and older. IONOS and Strato have similar policies.
The decision to bump the minimum supported version is happening after a lengthy seven-month long discussion, which surprisingly drew a little resistance. Although sites that remain on PHP 5.6 cannot upgrade beyond WordPress 6.2, they will still receive security updates, as the project currently backports them to versions 4.1+. The bump to 7.0.0 for the minimum supported version will have many benefits for the WordPress ecosystem of themes and plugins, will significantly reduce memory usage for upgraded websites, and provide better security and improvements to core tooling.
“There are no plans to bump the minimum supported PHP version on a schedule,” Blackbourn said. “The core team will continue to monitor usage of PHP versions and work with the hosting team to encourage users and hosting companies to upgrade their versions of PHP as swiftly as possible. The 5% usage baseline will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.”