It occurs to me, and not just because we write and sell a .NET product, that a good number of owners of large VB 6.0 applications are about to become a little nervous. As part of a proposal for one of these companies, I was tracking down the support dates and end-of-life statements by Microsoft about VB 6.0. It says, basically, that the Visual Basic runtime (or an updated version) will ship will Windows Vista and will be supported fully for 5 years, and not so fully for 5 more years after that.
The actual support of Visual Basic and Visual Studio 6.0 (in which VB 6.0 shipped) is over now. This sort of surprised me. I assumed that Microsoft would continue to support VB more or less forever, silly as that may sound. The actual dates for “support” are here: Visual Basic Product Lifecycle, and this says that real support ended 3/31/2005, and extended support will last until 4/8/2008.
I was a long time Visual Basic user — our last product used it as the extension language — and if I had a large VB 6.0 application, I would probably worry. I’m pretty sure that many VB 6.0 applications will continue to run. I’m also pretty sure that if they didn’t, and if they were mission critical, most enterprises would be able to find someone to tweak their application so that it would continue correctly.
What would worry me is less concrete. If you manage or develop an important product for a large enterprise and the language that the application was written in was out of official support, I’d start thinking that maybe it was time to think about a port. Why? If nothing else because anything large enough to worry about is likely to take until April of 2008 to get ported.
All of this is a somewhat shameless pitch for NetQuarry, of course. Actually, I don’t see how one would begin a reasonable port of a large Visual Basic application without at least the start of the infrastructure that we provide. Many of these applications are huge — e.g. 1000s of pages, tables, and complex rules. Most of the folks who built and probably deeply understand the application are off on other projects (presumably in a more modern language).