Developers Prolong Visual Basic Protest

As the support deadline looms for Visual Basic 6, about 225 Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals and nearly 2,500 other developers have signed a petition requesting that Microsoft continue to support it.

Microsoft may have hoped that the backers of the Visual Basic "classic" code would just roll up their petition and go home.

But it doesnt look like thats about to happen. In fact, the Visual Basic 6 faithful seem to be gaining momentum.

A little over week ago, about 100 Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) had signed a petition requesting that Microsoft continue to support Visual Basic 6 past the current support deadline of March 31.

By Thursday, 225 MVPs and nearly 2,500 other developers had signed the petition.

As one of the original MVP signatories noted: "Surprisingly, this matter is not dying down, but rather seems to be heating up."

Indeed, several MVPs and other signatories said they will be on an MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) chat Friday when Eric Rudder, Microsofts senior vice president of server and tools, is slated to discuss whats new in Visual Studio 2005, the upcoming version of Microsofts tool set, code-named Whidbey.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Visual Studio 2005.

Rudder will be accompanied by members of the Visual Studio 2005 team when he goes online to answer developers questions at 10:00 a.m. Pacific on Friday. The signatories will be in force as well, according to some contacted by eWEEK. VB backers are expected to flood the online Web chat to make their case for Microsoft to extend support for VB6.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is doing its best to attempt to quell the unrest.

On Thursday, Microsoft sent a private e-mail note to MVPs who had signed the VB petition.

"Im mailing each of the MVPs who signed the petition directly in hopes of continuing this dialogue and giving you some more insight into whats going on with VB these days," read the note, a copy of which was viewed by eWEEK and which was signed by Jay Roxe, Visual Basic product manager at Microsoft.

In his e-mail message, Roxe highlighted commitments that Microsoft is making to training and educating VB developers to help them transition to Visual Basic .Net.

"Microsoft is still supporting Visual Basic 6 and will continue to for quite some time," Roxe said. "In fact, the Visual Basic 6 runtime is slated to ship as a part of Windows Longhorn, which means that it will be covered under Longhorns support life cycle."

"There are strong feelings on all sides of the issue that sparked this petition, and I know that this note is not going to address all of these concerns," Roxe said. "However, I hope that we can continue to have an open dialogue around this issue."

/zimages/4/28571.gifMicrosoft MVPs say they want the old Visual Basic back. Click here to read more.

Meanwhile, in a blog entry titled "Rumors of my (VB6) demise" posted Wednesday, Microsoft developer division chief S. "Soma" Somasegar paraphrased Mark Twain in saying that such rumors "have been greatly exaggerated."

"Whats actually happening is that were transitioning from a free support model for VB6 to a paid support model," Somasegar wrote. "To be clear: Visual Basic support is not ending."

But Somasegars note seemingly did little to appease at least some of the more vocal VB6 backers.

"The real issue is MS support of its customers in their need to preserve the value of their assets, in this case literally billions of lines of BASIC code that—until VB .Net came along—was brought forward, with more or less effort, in each succeeding generation," wrote Jim Mack, president of MicroDexterity Inc. and a Visual Basic MVP from 1994 to 2004. (Mack posted his response as a comment on Somasegars blog.)

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