RealTime IT News

Microsoft Refreshes Visual C++, Ends VB 6 Support

With the release of a new feature pack for Visual C++ 2008, developers can now write applications that feature the Office 2007 appearance, a Microsoft senior executive announced this week.

At the same time, the company also discontinued support for its aging Visual Basic 6 integrated development environment , or IDE -- to the dismay of some die-hard users.

"I am pleased to announce that the Visual C++ 2008 Feature Pack has shipped," S. Somasegar, senior vice president of Microsoft's developer division, said on his blog this week.

"The Feature Pack provides several exciting features for C++ developers, such as a major update to MFC [Microsoft Foundation Classes] and an implementation of TR1 [Technical Report 1]," the post said.

The MFC gives C++ users access to the Windows programming interfaces, while TR1 is a set of suggested additions to the International Organization for Standardization's C++ standard.

Using the newly added MFC components, "developers can create applications with the 'look and feel' of Microsoft’s most popular products -- Microsoft Office, Visual Studio and Internet Explorer," his posting continued.

The Feature Pack now supports Office 2007 Ribbon Bar, Visual Studio docking, and auto hide windows. In addition, the Feature Pack adds "on the fly" menu and toolbar customization, as well as Shell management classes. Developers can also take advantage of Vista theme support.

"Our implementation of TR1 contains a number of important features such as smart pointers, regular expression parsing, containers … and sophisticated random number generators," he added.

Also this week, however, Microsoft as planned cut off extended support for the Visual Basic 6 IDE but will not completely leave users high and dry, according to another blog.

"Microsoft will continue to support the VB 6.0 runtime for all existing applications in all the next versions of the Windows OS, including Windows Server 2008 and Vista," read a blog posting by Jeff Nuckolls, a senior technologist in Microsoft's Application Platform and Development Tools group. "However, who knows how many years the runtime will be supported, so you might want to start considering a migration plan, if not for supportability concerns, then to take advantage of the performance, security, power of the .NET Framework and the productivity of Visual Studio 2008," he added.

Despite VB 6's age -- it first shipped in 1999 -- it retains a highly loyal user base, who in 2005 launched a petition drive to request an extension of support. Mainstream support ended March 31, 2005, and Visual Basic 6 has been under paid support since then.

And according to Microsoft's online product life cycle for VB 6, all support has ended after nine years of availability.