New feature in PHP 5.5 include support for generators and a new password hashing API. It will no longer support Windows XP and 2003.
The release of PHP 5.5.0 Alpha1 marks the beginning of the release cycle for the next version of the scripting language widely used for web development. PHP users are being asked to test it and submit bug reports - but bear in mind this is only the first step to a production version.
The new password hashing API will enable developers to generate a secure salted password hash using Bcrypt in a single line of code:
$hash = password_hash($password, PASSWORD_DEFAULT);
A salt is not needed as it will be auto-generated by the API if not present and added as a random component to the password.
As the Bcrypt hash method is computationally intensive and requires a lot of memory, its use makes passwords difficult to crack - providing they are long enough. Also the use of salts the use of rainbow tables is limited. If the user wants, the hash function call can not only specify its own salt but also adjust the complexity (cost) of the Bcrypt method or change the hashing method entirely. This information is stored along with the hashed password.
Other improvements in this version include:
plus many more improvements and bug fixes that are listed on the PHP News file on github.
The currently supported stable releases of PHP are versions 5.4.8 and 5.3.18.