In 1993 Microsoft came out with Visual Basic 3.0. A programming language that developed from the Basic language included with DOS. This language was highly criticized as not being a true programming language. One of its key drawbacks was not being able to create actual executable files. This meant that any VB program had to be interpreted at runtime and hence ran slower than a normal compiled program. However, Microsoft touted it as a great break through in rapid application development and argued vehemently that it was in fact a legitimate programming language.
As Visual Basic progressed Microsoft released Visual Basic 4.0 in 1995 which allowed people to write programs for both the old Windows 3.0 (16 bit) operating system and their newer Windows 95 (32 bit) operating. Visual Basic 5.0 was released in 1997 and supported only 32 bit programming. However, it was very easy to convert any previous VB programs to Visual Basic 5.0. This was a necessity because Microsoft still had very few "real" programmers on board with their "legitimate" language.
Then came Visual Basic 6.0 in 1998. This was Microsoft's coming out party in the programming realm. They had been ridiculed long enough and had done all they could to transform Visual Basic into a true programming language. With VB6 programmers could write full applications. Its database access features were outstanding. A business application written with just a couple thousand lines of Visual Basic would be equivalent to one written with millions of lines of C++. Programmers finally jumped on bored. Microsoft continued the publicity and soon Visual Basic was accepted in the real world.
Then Microsoft came out with VB.NET in 2001. They explained all the great new things entering into the .NET realm allowed for VB6 programmers. The problem was there was no true conversion path from VB6 to VB.NET. Of course in true Microsoft fashion they released a Wizard that allowed you to convert the simplest of programs, but if you had a real business application in VB6 you had to virtually recreate it in VB.NET. Microsoft had spent all this time and energy convincing people that their illegitimate child (Visual Basic) was a full programming language and now with one fell swoop that sought to kill it.
By 2005, Microsoft announced that they would no longer support Visual Basic 6 in any public way. This included no longer allowing anyone to buy the Visual Basic 6 development environment. All the companies that had invested millions in their VB6 business applications would have to rewrite the programs or face not having Microsoft support. If they hire any new VB6 developers they have no way to legally purchase development software for them.
This is old news though, the current news is that in March of this year Microsoft will put the nail in the coffin by discontinuing even their "Extended Support." This support allowed people to pay a fee for updates and phone support. Now Microsoft is preparing for the final finishing move. Like in the classic video game Mortal Kombat, Microsoft is preparing to lop the head off of Visual Basic 6 all together.
So my question is what now? How can Microsoft expect more developers to jump on their band wagon with their next languages? The sad part is, in my experience, Microsoft has finally figured some things out. I highly enjoy developing in their C# language, but I only do so because I know that it will always be available through third party open source initiatives like the Mono Project and I refuse to give Microsoft any more money for a development language.
This site site is dedicated to helping all of us who still use Visual Basic 6 for development. Maybe this is because we bought into the idea that its a real programming language. Maybe its because we are just learning to program and are starting here. Maybe its because we have so many programs in Visual Basic 6 already that we can't just kill them when Microsoft tells us to. Whatever the reason, I hope this site is of service to you. I've been developing in Visual Basic since version 4.0 and I'm glad to help anyone that needs it.