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Visual Basic 6 Renewed to Run on Windows 8

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The venerable Visual Basic 6 platform has received another stay of execution from Microsoft with the announcement that it will continue to support the platform on the upcoming Windows 8. Despite a succession of post-VB6 products (Visual Basic .NET, C#, etc), the ease and simplicity of VB6 has fostered a large installed base of applications. These applications will be able to rely on Windows 8 to ship with the run-time files necessary for their operation.

The operational standard for VB6 applications is defined to be such that if a developer finds:

“ issue with your Visual Basic 6.0 application running on Windows Vista,Windows 7, Windows 8 (where the same code worked as expected on Windows XP), please follow your normal support channels to report the issue.”

 Some extended DLLs will not be shipping as part of Windows 8 and developers can consult Microsoft's support statement for the list of files they should ship with their applications.  

Visual Basic 1.0 was released in 1991 to lower that era's development barriers to creating native Windows 3.0 applications. Visual Basic 6 (VB6) ultimately followed in 1998 and its popularity among developers of that era has resulted in applications that remain in active use today.  While Microsoft has released versions of Visual Basic for the .NET platform, changes were made in the newer program resulting in a fundamentally different language.

The continuing popularity of VB6 presents Microsoft with a conundrum. On the one hand it represents a platform that it considers superseded by superior (or at least newer) Microsoft products. On the other its on-going usage indicates a successful product well-received by the marketplace.  Based on user feedback Microsoft is missing an opportunity by not resuming full support.  Many developers continue to question Microsoft's treatment of VB6.

Leonardo Azpura wrote:

Resuming Classic VB as a mainstream product would also mean best PR for them, too. The years ago, there were 6 million "professional" VB6 programmers. All of us, no matter what additional tools,languages and platforms are we using today, still have to maintain and extend VB6 applications, and most of us still hold a grunge against MS for attempting to kill a vital tool of our trade.

Continuing on that theme, Karl E. Peterson added:

Agreed, a multi-threaded x64 VB7 would be a market slayer! […] They could sell it for the _next_ 20 years.

Finally Winston Potgeier remarked that he too would like 64-bit support and a continuing guarantee that future Windows releases will support VB6:

As far as what is needed to make VB6 compete in todays market, gosh the problem is I can do everything any other DEV enviroment can do, quicker, easier, and it runs natively. Don't quite know what to ask for except 64 bit compilation and future OS compatibility, maybe win8 mobile compilation?

If readers have found alternatives to VB6, please comment below. Or do the existing strengths of VB6 mean that it continues to be used in your organization as-is?

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