An Open Letter to the Community
Author's Note: Earlier today, I sent the attached note to each of the MVPs who signed the petition around VB6. Please let me know what you think.
I noticed that you signed the petition at http://classicvb.org/petition. I'm mailing each of the MVPs who signed the petition directly in hopes of continuing this dialog and giving you some more insight into what’s going on with VB these days.
There was a great deal of discussion around the issues raised in this petition back in 1999 and 2000 when Microsoft initially announced the design of Visual Basic .NET. Some of the input that we received from the MVPs and the community changed this design significantly. One debate was whether the Visual Basic language should evolve to target the .NET Framework. Many of our VB customers felt they had reached the limits of what VB could do and were looking for more – better security, deeper access into the core Windows platform, easier leveraging of skills for building Web applications. After looking hard at the VB runtime, Microsoft made the decision that managed code based on the .NET Framework is the future strategic direction for development tools.
We took a lot of feedback when we made this decision and didn’t make it lightly. The MVPs have continued to give us a tremendous amount of feedback. Much of the way that Visual Basic 2005 looks today is due to feedback that we got from MVPs about features like Edit and Continue, Design-time Expression Evaluation, and the overall simplification of the development environment. The discussions on the MVP mailing list are sometimes heated, but this debate and feedback is what has led to the product that we are shipping later this year.
We remain passionately committed to helping Visual Basic developers leverage their skills and solve new challenges using Visual Basic .NET and Visual Basic 2005. Many MVPs have told us that migration is a difficult task for some types of code. In response to that, we’ve concentrated on first helping developers to upgrade their skills. Later this month, we’re introducing a “VB Upgrade Center” as a part of the developer center on MSDN. We are also hosting a number of free training events worldwide and a pre-conference before TechEd focused on the Visual Basic 6 developer. I welcome your input on how we can work together to continue to speak to Visual Basic developers.
There's also been a great deal of debate around the end of mainstream support. To clarify, this is a switch from free to paid support. Many of the questions around support have been thoroughly addressed in the blogs and the current information is available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/support/vb6.aspx. Soma also addressed this in his blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar and linked to other comments on this. However, I want to highlight to you that Microsoft is still supporting Visual Basic 6 and will continue to for quite some time. 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 Longhorn’s support lifecycle.
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. However, I hope that we can continue to have an open dialog around this issue. Some of these discussions will continue in the public forum, but please also feel free to contact me directly.