I started with Reaktor back in version 3 and have been hacking away steadily for 15 years. It's a fantastic system for developing your own instruments, effects, and audio utilities. One does this either by hacking together pieces from existing tools or simply building virtual circuits from scratch in a graphical interface. It's a lot like Max/MSP except easier to get started, and with thousands of ready-to-go ensembles, many of excellent quality. Back when I started all this, Max had a poor interface and provided no way to customise the look and feel for performance. Also I didn't like the sound. Both of these factors are no longer the case, but still Reaktor has the edge in some departments. (For one, it works as a VST so it is easy to integrate with any DAW.)
My working method is to build on a powerful desktop system, keeping in mind CPU usage, and then port over to my laptop for live performance. The development box is a fast i7 chip with lots of memory, running Windows 7. The laptop is an old dual core with 2GB RAM running Windows XP. But it gets at least half the performance, once I have optimised, and this is usually perfectly adequate.
Reaktor has been stuck on version 5 for what seems like aeons. Native Instruments have lost interest and moved onto more lucrative products. But since they are aware that Reaktor is the product their evangelists (and many established electronic artists) use, they keep updating it with point releases, improving the interface, fixing bugs, and sometimes even introducing significant features (like the OSC implementation). All of these little changes have been free of charge, but still it seems like Reaktor might disappear into the aether at any time.
One thing I have never liked about Reaktor is that every new version, even the point releases, creates data files (ensembles and instruments) incompatible with what came before. That's just lazy coding. Any sort of decent file format should permit new semantics so long as the syntax was consistent. Older software versions that don't understand the new features could simply fail quietly. This restriction means that I need to update both my computers every time even a small version change is released. I start with the development machine and, once I have the time and the need, I update the performance laptop.
With Reaktor 5.9 Native Instruments completely changed the installation method. For some reason the programme is now packaged as an ISO, with a disk driver and loader. The loader creates a virtual disk and loads the ISO, pretending it has mounted a DVD. Then it extracts the actual installation programme and proceeds. This is a strange backwards approach in an era when actual DVDs are becoming a rarity. It provides many points of failure and is wasteful of disk space and bandwidth. I have no idea what is wrong with the tried-and-true method of using a simple installation programme.
This installation failed on my development system, leaving me with an unusable Reaktor in any version. Tech support then took an entire week to get back to me. That's ridiculous for software that I am using professionally and have paid for through updates over many years.
Now I have discovered something even worse. Reaktor 5.9 no longer supports Windows XP. And NI did not announce this fact! So I only discovered the horrible truth when attempting to install the software on my performance laptop. No go and no workaround.
Of course all my recent work on the development system is in version 5.9. These files will not run in version 5.8, and there is no way to export them. Everything I have been working on for the last month or so is now useless to me.
The solution is to spend 120 Euro and update to Windows 8 on the laptop. But that is more than the entire system cost, and the "update" procedure actually means wiping everything on the disk. So all my data and applications, not to mention days of reconfiguration, will have to be redone. Well, I might have the time for that process sometime this decade. Or I might not.
The second approach is to throw out my Reaktor 5.9 work, revert to 5.8 on the development system, and think about switching entirely to Max at some point in the future. Far more people use Max, it is a standard in education, and the tech support is excellent. Unfortunately I'd have to discard 15 years of idiosyncratic instrument building, which is a bitter pill.
So maybe it is not Windows XP that has reached end of life. Maybe it is Reaktor that has finally proven to be more bother than it is worth. It's a shame, because it is so totally unnecessary.
I am sure some people will tell me that it's all my fault for not already using the latest and greatest operating system on the laptop. But Windows XP works perfectly well in all regards and does not have device compatibility problems that still are an issue with Windows 8. I see no reason to "upgrade" to an expensive and in some ways inferior piece of software.
Another argument is that using XP is irresponsible, since it will become a haven for viruses, now that it is no longer being updated regularly. But this ignores two facts. Viruses target the more popular systems, which XP will not be any longer. So there is no evidence the hypothesis is true. Second, I don't engage in any activities likely to harvest a virus. In fact I only go online when needed to install software updates. Which is perhaps an irony.