Software Development

Making the case for continued support of Visual Basic 6.0

Microsoft's decision to end mainstream support for Visual Basic 6.0 spurred a group of developers to create an online petition that urges Microsoft to continue developing older versions of VB. Learn more about this "movement" within the classic VB community.

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Microsoft ended mainstream support (i.e., free technical support) for Visual Basic 6.0 on March 31, 2005. This move indicates that there will be no more bug fixes, service packs, new versions, or, most importantly, enhancements to the programming language. This is worrisome to the classic VB development community because VB6 remains the preferred approach for many kinds of applications; in particular, mainstream business applications with a database component.

Microsoft is taking steps to make the migration to Visual Basic .NET easier. It has created a Visual Basic Developer Center on its MSDN site, and it plans to introduce enhancements that recall VB6 in upcoming versions of Visual Basic 2005. Yet, despite the company's efforts, this DevX article explains why migrating from VB6 to VB.NET isn't that easy—even with the help of Microsoft wizards.

I don't have any plans to migrate from VB6 to VB.NET any time soon. Don't get me wrong—I think that Visual Basic 2005 and, in fact, the entire .NET development framework are great steps forward with the support for true object-oriented programming, managed code, and Web services. However, many applications simply do not require or benefit from .NET's managed code and other enhancements. VB6, with its COM-based API and compilation to native code, remains the tool of choice for many development projects and I believe will remain so for the foreseeable future. When you consider these factors, along with the fact that 44 percent of U.S. developers are still using VB6 or older (according to a 2004 survey from Evans Data), I think it's a compelling case for Microsoft to continue support of VB6.

With this goal in mind, a group of Visual Basic programmers has created a petition as an effort to convince Microsoft to reverse its decision and continue supporting our favorite development tool. To date, more than 5,800 developers have signed the petition, with 244 of the signatures coming from Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) developers. Find out more at Classic VB and, if you would like to encourage Microsoft to continue supporting VB6, sign the online petition. I'd love to hear where other developers stand on this "movement," so please voice your opinion in the article discussion.

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