As Mark Twain once famously said, “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” 


I’ve thought this same thing as I’ve read many of the comments in the press and the blogosphere over the past couple of days about the “end” of support for VB6.  What’s actually happening is that we’re transitioning from a free support model for VB6 to a paid support model.  To be clear: Visual Basic support is not ending. 


This change from free to paid support is something that we announced back in 2002 and means that Visual Basic developers have had 7 years of free support since the tool shipped in 1998.   “Extended” support will continue through March, 2008 and we’ll have custom support contracts available through 2012.   Visual Basic developers who acquired VB6 through an MSDN subscription received two to four pre-paid support incidents with their subscriptions and these are still valid.  Several other Microsofties have already blogged about the full details of this support and you can find their entries here, here and here.


Usually we talk about the Visual Basic development environment and the Visual Basic runtime in the same breath, but in this case it’s worthwhile separating the two of them.  The Visual Basic Runtime shipped as a part of Windows XP, which means that it’s covered under Windows XP’s support cycle (essentially 2 years from when we ship Windows Longhorn before it transitions into paid support).  If necessary, we’ll still provide security patches free of charge.


Visual Basic 6.0 has a tremendous and passionate developer community.  Many users can – and do – get their questions answered through the newsgroups and online forums.  One of these online portals is our own MSDN center, which will continue to host a large amount of VB6 whitepapers, FAQs and code samples.  We’re continuing to look at ways to make that content easier to locate and use. 


We remain passionately committed to helping Visual Basic developers solve new challenges using Visual Basic .NET and Visual Basic 2005?  One of the things that we’ll be doing later this month is introducing a “VB Upgrade Center” as a part of the developer center on MSDN.  This will be a one-stop-shop for finding some of the best VB6 content, information on how to use VB6 and VB .NET together and information on how to take your development skills to VB .NET.  I’m also very excited that we have a PreCon at TechEd that’s focused entirely on Visual Basic 6.0 developers making the move to Visual Basic 2005.  It’s got a couple of great speakers and allows you to get your skills up to speed as you enjoy the rest of TechEd.