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Microsoft's Rudder: VB6 Support Not Done Yet

The head of Microsoft's tools division said Friday that support for its Visual Basic 6 toolset would not be ending, addressing what had been a growing concern among some in the developer community.

"Support is, however, transitioning, consistent with the roadmap that we disclosed in 2002," said Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the server and tools business for Microsoft.

"We are moving to extended support, and that means we are entering a paid support period," Rudder said during an online chat with over a hundred developers.

"MSDN subscribers can still use their prepaid support incidents and, of course, Premier customers have support, as well. All customers can purchase individual support incidents, too."

As with other legacy Microsoft products (like Windows 98 and NT), critical security fixes will continue to be made for VB6. Rudder also noted that VB6 runtime support will exist in Longhorn, the next version of Windows expected in 2006.

"The second issue around 'a new product' or 'hosting VB6 inside of Visual Studio 2005+' is different," Rudder stated. "Here, we have been clear that this is not currently in our plans. I know this disappoints many folks, but I think it's important to set expectations correctly."

Rudder made the comments after he was repeatedly asked about support for the predecessors of Whidbey, the code-name for Microsoft's next generation toolset, Visual Studio 2005.

Jana Carter, a project manager with Microsoft, joined Rudder in the online chat. The two selected questions from the chat attendees. Rudder and the Whidbey team addressed Visual Basic questions and dodged some about the actual shipment date of the second beta version of Whidbey, saying only "soon."

"I will neither confirm nor deny who has the 'last bug' that we are waiting for before shipping Beta 2," Rudder said. "The good news is that we are very close to getting this done. We're not quite there today, but we are within strike distance, and I think the overall quality of this release will be very, very good."

"We want to do a great job on security. We want to do a great job on productivity. We want to continue to innovate in key areas like data access. For these areas, we are betting on VB.NET."

That said, Rudder did note that Microsoft was always looking for ways to make the transition from VB6 to VB.NET better.

"I think Whidbey helps a lot in this respect, and I hope we can work together to do even more in future [Visual Studio] releases," he said.

The session was limited to Microsoft Internet Explorer users, as Mozilla Firefox users were blocked.

One attendee questioned the lack of Firefox support for Microsoft's chat application. Carter explained that support will ship in Microsoft's next chat release in a few months.