Microsoft to VB6 Developers: Sorry I demolished your house, in the meantime here's some music

In response to complaints from livid VB6 developers that Microsoft pulled the rug from under their feet when they cancelled the product, MS have set up a clinically pleasant VB6 support website called VBRun. Visiting VBRun is like wandering into a deserted shopping mall – all very clean, shiny and modern-looking, but unsettlingly quiet except maybe for some gentle muzak burbling away in the background. For some worrying reason, the movie 28 Days Later springs to mind.

The front page acknowledges: “Visual Basic 6.0 was one of the most popular programming environments and we know that there are a lot of you who are developing in it today.” It’s nice to know that Microsoft shares your pain.

The site consists mainly of links to old MSDN articles on VB6. There are also links to external VB web sites such as Planet Source Code and VB City (I’ll take a whole planet over a mere city any day).

VBRun doesn’t seem to be sure of whether it’s meant to be enthusiastic about VB6 (i.e. promoting it as a development platform), or whether it’s meant to be one last lifeline to the many, many VB developers still stuck on that sinking ship. It seems to take the enthusiastic option while handing out the lifeline in the form of a series of articles explaining how to migrate your skills from VB6 to VB.NET (a different beast entirely). The result, as you may have gathered from my reaction, is a surreal website. Picture a sinking ship with Ronald MacDonald hauling desperate survivors out of the sea.

The trouble is, there’s no real migration route from VB6 to .NET. The APIs and components are different. The reality is that you either stick with the old VB6, learn VB.NET (which is the same as C# apart from some slight syntactic sugar), jump straight to C#, or learn Java.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.

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