Microsoft Still Not Bending on Classic VB Support

Company executives reiterate that Microsoft won't extend support for VB6, despite requests from a growing pool of developers.

An online Web chat on Friday that was billed as a venue for Visual Studio 2005 questions evolved into a forum for the Visual Basic 6 faithful to bang the drum for Microsoft to extend support for the platform.

Over the past couple of weeks, Microsoft has found itself facing a revolt by some of its favored developers over the companys support for what the developers are calling classic Visual Basic, also known as VB6. More than 200 current and former Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) and another nearly 2,500 developers have signed an online petition, calling for Microsoft to not only extend support for its VB6 product, but to commit to a path ensuring the products continued existence.

But Microsoft officials have said there is no plan to extend mainstream support for the product beyond the current March 31, 2005 cut-off date. Nor is there any plan to continue to enhance the product.

On Friday, the Visual Studio 2005 chat opened with a question by MVP Jonathan West on Microsofts intentions around VB6.

"Do you realize that our concern over the end of mainstream support is not about two free phone calls, but rather the ability of VB6 applications to continue to run on future platforms, and of your commitment to fix any problems that might arise?" West asked Microsoft officials participating in the chat.

Eric Rudder, senior vice president in charge of Microsofts server and tools division, told chat participants that Microsofts stance is not about to change.

"This clearly is an important issue and deals with an issue that we have been working on for a long time," Rudder said. He continued:

"I have heard basically two types of feedback. The first centers mainly around support and the second focuses on some sort of new VB6-based product. Let me deal with support first. Support is NOT ending.

"Support is, however, transitioning, consistent with the roadmap that we disclosed in 2002. We are moving to extended support and that means we are entering a paid support period," Rudder said.

Another chat participant asked, "If the VB6 runtime is to be supported in Longhorn, and hence till approximately 2012, why not then give developers new tools to work with VB6, and hence build the bridge from both sides of the divide?"

Rudders response: "We will work very hard to make sure that support goes well. We have heard strong feedback about making sure that critical security fixes continue to be made. We will do this. We have heard a large number of folks ask for VB6 runtime support on Longhorn. We will do this.

"We will also continue to monitor how this situation is working and make sure it works as smoothly as possible," Rudder said.

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