It feels a little like the 1960's again.
Protests against the establishment! Defending the rights of the people against the rich and powerful! Ah! I love the smell of tear gas in the morning! It smells like revolution!
Maybe events in the Visual Basic community have not risen quite to that level yet, but they're getting there. Visual Basic 6 programmers are tired of being pushed around and they're not going to take it anymore! A new petition is being circulated using the world wide power of the web and it's getting enough attention so that even mighty Microsoft has been forced to actually respond a little bit! Microsoft is normally about as easy to get a reaction from as the Great Sphinx in Egypt so this is no small accomplishment!
If you want to read the petition yourself, and maybe even sign it, you can find it at:
The fact is, VB.NET is not compatible with VB 6 - not really even close. This site featured an article about six of the top five ways ways that VB 6 is different from VB.NET recently. And one of the first articles written for this site was about the problems you will run into using the upgrade wizard that is supposed to help developers move from VB 6 to VB.NET.
The basic argument of the VB 6 petitioners is that there is a vast accumulation of VB 6 software which will lose it's value as a result of Microsoft's announcement to discontinue free support of VB 6. The VB 6'ers say it's like you built a house worth literally trillions of dollars but the contractor who helped you build it has now created an open pit mining operation next door that is leaching industrial waste into your house and destroying all the value.
But the Microsofties say no, no! It's not at all like that! More specifically, "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 Longhorns support lifecycle."
But if you look the headlines and articles written about "Visual Basic" at Microsoft's web site, you see NOTHING about VB 6. They're not enhancing it. You'll have to pay extra for support after the end of March, 2005. And it's almost impossible to buy today. That's "supporting" ??? Sounds like one of those Enron-WorldCom-HealthSouth lies to me.
(Interesting side note: You MIGHT be permitted to downgrade VB.NET to VB 6 if you fill out an official request with Microsoft. That is, if they have any inventory left and if they feel like allowing it that day.)
The VB 6 Liberation Front also points out that since much of Microsoft's OWN software is written in C++, they have taken care to safeguard THEIR intellectual property by creating a mode in which C++ will continue to run in .NET - even though they had to make an exception in .NET's otherwise spotless and pure OOP architecture big enough to drag a mainframe through. The VB6LF suggests that perhaps Microsoft can only "feel the pain" when it's Microsoft's pain, not their customers' pain.
Just to put my own cards on the table, here's my position:
1 - I LOVE VB.NET! I can't imagine why anyone would consider using VB 6 if they're not forced into it by some external requirement.
2 - But I agree that when a company achieves the size and influence of Microsoft, they take on a public responsibility to their community and that includes issues like supporting people who bought into their vision. Yeah ... I think they owe some support to the people who still depend on VB 6 for their programming solutions.
Microsoft became rich and powerful for two reasons. First, because their management and employees worked hard, made correct decisions, and created great products that a lot of us decided to buy. But second, because they did it in a world business community that we all helped to create and we all have some ownership in. This is a pretty fundamental idea. I think "private enterprise" becomes "public enterprise" in direct proportion to the degree that we all depend on it. That we are all interdependent is an actual fact that needs to be recognized.
At last count, 3054 people (including 230 Microsoft MVPs) have signed a petition to Microsoft demanding that the company NOT abandon VB 6. ... Well... they say they are "requesting", not "demanding". But at the same time, the FAQ at their web site quotes (and links) statements by individuals (at the Microsoft supported "GotDotNet" web site yet!) branding Microsoft as "unacceptable", "morally indefensible", "unconscionable" and that what they're doing "should be illegal".
Now, THAT'S getting a bit closer to the tear gas grenades!