Real Software has extended a software product giveaway designed to exploit Microsoft’s decision to end free support for Visual Basic 6 (VB6).

Real — a rival developer tools maker to Microsoft — today extended by a week its offer to VB6 developers of a free upgrade to its Realbasic software. Originally made on 21 March, the offer deadline has been pushed out from 1 to 8 April.

To date, Real claims to have signed up 10,000 VB6 users.

Developers and Microsoft are at odds over the software heavyweight’s plans for VB6. The support move has sparked an outcry among supporters of VB6, who claim Microsoft is leaving them “stranded” as it focusses its efforts on the .NET tools and platform.

Greg Low, a consultant with Readify and Microsoft MVP told Builder AU that Visual Studio .NET was only released in 2002 and it is too soon for Microsoft to change its support for VB6.

“Code that can’t be taken forward and that simple economics say can’t be
re-written needs to be able to be supported. My concern is to make sure VB6 apps that can’t be migrated will still work properly for many years to come.”

“My concern regarding support is
that upgrades of other applications such as Office have the potential to
break existing VB6 applications and I’d like to be sure that these problems
will be fixed,” Low added.

More than 4,500 developers worldwide — including 200-plus of Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals(MVPs) — have signed a petition asking the company to continue its support of classic VB, help preserve investment in existing applications and deliver easier migration to Visual Basic .NET.

However, Microsoft has refused to budge.

Real Software’s move has not won wholehearted support within the developer community. Nick Wienholt, consultant and Microsoft MVP who signed the petition, said moving to Realbasic was not the solution he was hoping for.

“One of the main points of the VB petition was the request for the ability not to have to port VB6 code that is working anywhere,” Wienholt said. “The only 100 percent compatible VB6 product will continue to be VB6, so I don’t see this as much of a fix”.

Bill McCarthy, chief executive officer at Total Environment and also a Microsoft MVP, agreed.

“Personally, I do not see any advantage to going with Realbasic — instead just a lot of pains,” he said. “Without the support for properties as such, any interface you inherit in VB6
will not upgrade and there really is no replacement.

“For people who are incredibly angry at Microsoft, Realbasic might be an alternative, but it will do little or nothing for their current code assets.

“In fact, I think they’d generally find the conversion to VB.NET is a lot easier than a conversion to Realbasic.

However, McCarthy was not totally negative about Real Software’s offering. “Realbasic does have some potential for cross platform development, and it does have some interesting ‘extender’ kind of inheritance abilities,” he added.