Developers call for Microsoft to bring back Visual Basic

As Microsoft forges ahead with mobile and cloud-first strategy, developers are venting their frustration over Visual Basic support

While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella forges ahead with a mobile and cloud-first strategy, a growing number of developers are venting their frustration over Visual Basic (VB) support.

Microsoft has stated it will not bring back the popular programming language, which brought Windows programming to the masses in the early 1990s.

According to an index published on the development language rating site in July 2014, Visual Basic is the sixth most popular programming language, ahead of seemingly popular languages such as PHP (seventh), SQL (tenth) and Ruby (fourteenth).

In spite of being 12 years old, Visual Basic.Net ranks six places behind the older VB language it replaces, according to the Tiobe Index.

Given the extent to which VB is still used, many people on the Visual Studio UserVoice site have expressed a desire for Microsoft to bring back Visual Basic 6.0, which was dropped when Visual Basic.Net was introduced in 2002.

Others have asked Microsoft to donate the code and intellectual property of Visual Basic to the open-source community to help VB clones such as React OS and Gambas.

Last month, in a forum on the Visual Studio UserVoice site, Paul Yuknewicz, group programme manager for Microsoft Visual Studio Cloud Tools, declined user requests to carry on developing VB. He said Microsoft would be unable to make incremental changes to VB. 

Addressing user requests for Microsoft to give VB to the open-source community, Yuknewicz stated: "Even open sourcing the language/runtime wouldn’t solve the fact that VB6 was for a different set of problems."

As Computer Weekly has reported, Nadella has publicly stated he is committed to focusing on the customer. His latest memo to Microsoft’s staff outlines the company’s intention to use analytics to decide how to develop products that meet the needs of these customers. Part of this strategy is likely to involve a major reorganisation of middle management.

Commenting on the Computer Weekly article, one reader, Sten2005, wrote: "Perhaps when that happens, Satya Nadella may reconsider the middle management decision not to either update or open source the VB6 programming language."

In a Facebook message to Nadella, that was reproduced on the Visual Basic 6.0 Superior Code Awards (2014-2015) website, Sten2005 described the decision by Yuknewicz as "shameful". He also said developers could no longer trust Microsoft: "You clearly will drop any development tools with no regard for the developers who have invested in them."

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