Campaign to save Visual Basic 6 gathers support

An online petition gathering signatures to save Microsoft's Visual Basic 6 programming language will not change the company's intention to cut free support on March 31, a Microsoft representative said on Thursday afternoon.

Microsoft's plan to stop support has been discussed for almost three years and the deadline already has been extended once, said the press representative, who requested anonymity. Visual Basic 6 has been supported longer than any other Microsoft product, according to the representative. "Extended" support, which is fee-based, will continue through 2008.

The vendor has spent the past few years encouraging Visual Basic 6 programmers to migrate to the new Visual Basic .Net platform, which has had its share of complications. The Microsoft representative acknowledged that the company "dramatically altered the Visual Basic language-syntax in Visual Basic .Net."

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,009 signatures had been added to the petition, at http://classicvb.org/Petition/. One signatory interviewed stressed the difficulties in moving to Visual Basic .Net.

"It's a different language," said Visual Basic programmer Don Bradner, who has been part of Microsoft's Most Valuable Programmer community. "It's like me telling you that you have to write InfoWorld in French."

Bradner said he was not surprised that Microsoft still plans to cut support. The petition, he said, was "a kind of a last-gasp effort that coincides with the dropping of official support for Visual Basic 6."

Bradner said he fears his current Visual Basic applications will not run on Windows when the OS is upgraded to 64-bit status. He has, however, done some Visual Basic .Net programming.

The petition asks that Microsoft further develop Visual Basic 6 and Visual Basic for Applications, continue supporting the language, and allow customers to decide when to migrate code to Visual Basic .Net. An updated version of Visual Basic 6 is requested by the petitioners for inclusion inside the Visual Studio IDE.

"Microsoft should demonstrate a commitment to the core Visual Basic language. This core should be enhanced and extended, and changes should follow a documented deprecation process," the petition states.

But all future versions of Visual Basic will be based on Visual Basic .Net, according to Microsoft. The company has provided "a wide range of resources to help Visual Basic developers make the transition to Visual Basic .Net," according to Microsoft's representative.

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