"General Douglas MacArthur famously said during his 1951 farewell address to the U.S. Congress that “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” A half century later, MacArthur’s statement could just as easily apply to programming languages. Specifically, Visual Basic.
Microsoft last month announced that it was extending “It Just Works” compatibility for Visual Basic 6 applications for the full lifetime of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and (most importantly) Windows 8. As described on the Visual Basic 6.0 Resource Center, “the core Visual Basic 6.0 runtime will be supported for the full lifetime” of these operating systems. The commitment comprises five years of mainstream support followed by five years of extended support.
Karl Peterson is a VB6 programmer and formerly a longtime columnist at Visual Studio Magazine and Visual Basic Programming Journal (where he wrote the popular VB Corner column, among others, until 2010). Peterson notes that this announcement officially puts the lifetime of the VB6 runtime past his projected retirement. And that fact may have implications for enterprises sitting on large amounts of working VB6 code, which Peterson calls “the COBOL of the 2020s.”
The Visual Basic team is committed to “It Just Works” compatibility for Visual Basic 6.0 applications on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 including R2, Windows 7, and Windows 8.
The Visual Basic team’s goal is that Visual Basic 6.0 applications that run on Windows XP will also run on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows 8. As detailed in this document, the core Visual Basic 6.0 runtime will be supported for the full lifetime of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows 8, which is five years of mainstream support followed by five years of extended support (http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy).
Visual Basic 6.0 is made up of these key deliverables:
Visual Basic 6.0 IDE [Integrated Development Environment]
Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime -- the base libraries and execution engine used to run VB 6.0 applications
Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime Extended Files – select ActiveX control OCX files, libraries, and tools shipping with the IDE media and as an online release
The Visual Basic 6.0 IDE
The Visual Basic 6.0 IDE is no longer supported as of April 8, 2008. However, Custom Support Agreements may be available from Microsoft. Additionally, both the Windows and Visual Basic teams have tested Visual Basic 6.0 IDE on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 8 to understand and mitigate (if appropriate) serious regressions in application compatibility. This announcement does not change the support policy for the IDE.
Since the initial release of this support statement, the Windows 8 operating system has been announced. This document has been updated to clarify Microsoft’s support for VB6 on Windows 8.
VB6 runtime will ship and will be supported in Windows 8 for the lifetime of the OS. Visual Basic 6.0 runtime files continue to be 32-bit only and all components must be hosted in 32-bit application processes. Developers can think of the support story for Windows 8 being the same as it is for Windows 7.
I don't know wither to laugh or cry... (note, I [sigh] still code some in VB6 at work...). Looking on the bright side, it's great seeing this kind of long term support for a programming language and runtime. That is indeed pretty awesome...