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Microsoft Open Source Programming News

Confirmed: Microsoft Says It Will Open Source VB 6 205

msmoriarty writes "Microsoft told a group of MVPs today at Tech-Ed that it plans to take Visual Basic 6 open source and will release the source code on CodePlex. A source at the event said that Microsoft is planning to release only the VB6 language on codeplex – not Visual Studio or related tools." Update: 05/20 02:24 GMT by T : Alas, too good to be true. msmoriarty writes with an apologetic retraction: "We got it wrong — Microsoft denied and went back to our source and they pulled confirmation. Our apologies."
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Confirmed: Microsoft Says It Will Open Source VB 6

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ah here we are, this is great news from MS! finally

  • by deinol ( 210478 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:45PM (#36186342) Homepage

    That's nice and all, but does anyone care?

    I mean, I guess there are some legacy projects out there that are still being maintained, but I'm sure those developers bought VS a long time ago.

    Or is there some secret in the VB6 code that the open source community can actually learn from?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I'd say people do care.

      If they actually do this, VB6 will still be a popular language when we're all dead. I'm completely serious -- it's the next COBOL.

      Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know.

    • by fragfoo ( 2018548 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:48PM (#36186374)

      Or is there some secret in the VB6 code that the open source community can actually learn from?

      Probably yes, you can learn a lot from past mistakes.

    • by Sc4Freak ( 1479423 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:04PM (#36186538)

      Er, because at least one person will find this useful? Open-sourcing a previously closed product can only be a good thing for the community and FOSS, regardless of whether it's Microsoft or whether you personally believe it's useful. It's honestly something that Microsoft needs to be doing more often.

      • As someone who is heavily involved in the Microsoft world -- does anyone care? Seriously, I did some great work with VB6 back in the day, but it was already struggling for any vague relevance by 2003. What possible appeal does the source code hold, apart from historical curiosity and amusement at what is probably a hilarious codebase? This doesn't help any Microsoft-houses, who have long since been forced to bail on VB6 -- and the stragglers are technical incompetents who can't get anything out of this.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          There is likely a lot of VB6 in 'Visual Basic for Applications' hence one department vetoed the other departments actions because it would likely impact macro lock in, a very popular 'it's just too hard to change office suites' tactic.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Seeing as half the world's business are still built on VB6 then yes, it'd have been a good thing, because it'd mean there was finally hope in creating something that'd pull them away from that unstable, poorly scalable fuckup of a technology.

  • Everyone is using OSS, even MS. It's good to see they are at least trying to show some goodwill. Though VB may not be the best addition to the OSS community, it is at least showing that MS is willing to contribute something. It would also be nice to see more cool OSS things come out of MS Reserach...

    • Microsoft has been open sourcing things for years now.

      • I really try to keep my MS bashing to a minimum. Really. But didn't their VP in charge of open source quit in disgust a while ago? I mean, I may be wrong. I hope I am. But it seems like whenever there may a stray bit of sunshine to shimmer on the Redmond Giant, it turns out to be gleaming on the blade sticking out of users backs.

        I've never programmed in VB (due to MS loathing and distrust), but it always looked like a nice way to build macros for office, and quickly build prototypes. It would be great if th

        • But didn't their VP in charge of open source quit in disgust a while ago?

          I don't know. I guess we should find out for sure before judging. As for Microsoft's open source, there are plenty of projects [microsoft.com] that they have done. They have also supported external projects too.

          I've never programmed in VB (due to MS loathing and distrust), but it always looked like a nice way to build macros for office, and quickly build prototypes.

          The Office macros (Visual Basic for Applications) was one of Microsoft's big failures as it was responsible for a massive security hole on Windows. People who were smart enough not to open executables emailed to them would happily open a DOC file from any unknown source which was just as insecure.

          It would be great if they open sourced VB6 without their normal strings attached, like it can only be used in projects for Windows platforms after MS has "thoroughly inspected" the project. If they really do use an OSI approved license, I might actually use it on Linux.

          Well they do have M [opensource.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:47PM (#36186370)

    Once Visual Basic becomes an open source project the public's perception of Open Source software will plummet.

  • that will be excited about this. All he knows is basic/vb6 and once wondered with pure astonishment why anybody would use such a ridiculous language as c/c++. When I informed him that Windows 7 would be the last OS to support VB6 runtimes he looked at me and asked "Well what the hell are we going to do?" I could go on about this fine fellow, but I have long repressed most of the memories of my time with that company and choose to retain my sanity.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:50PM (#36186392)

    Will it be one of their "shared source" licenses or will it be a true open source license like the BSD license or the IBM Common Public License?

    • by EvanED ( 569694 )

      MS has a couple legit free licenses; both the MS-PL and MS-RL are copyleft (though of course GPL incompatible).

      Not everything up there is under one of those of course, but it's not like everything is under a shared source license or something like that.

      • The MS-RL is copyleft, but the MS-PL isn't. The MS-PL is more like the Apache license - you're given a copyright license and a patent grant and you can basically do anything you want with it.

      • "MS has a couple legit free licenses"

        Yes, and a couple of non-legit free licenses with names that are not exactly equal, but similar enough that they can claim you misunderstood after they claim something was in a free license.

    • It's right there in the article:

      The source code was released under the Microsoft Reference License (Ms-RL).

      Though the Ms-RL is the Microsoft Reciprocal License so I don't know if one or the other is a typo since the Microsoft Reference License is the Ms-RSL.

      • The article didn't specifically say that it would be released under that license, but that Microsoft.VisualBasic.dll and part of the 3.5 .NET libraries had. No real word on what this will be, though you are probably right.

  • great, now i'll continue praying so they open source windows 3.1
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This will surely confound the uptakers for years on end. BEWARE MSGEEKS BEARING GIFTS !!

    If you thought Forth was gawd-awful for humans, wait til you get a load of that threaded p-code bowl of intestines-machinations !! It's like all that's bad with Forth and all that's bad with (anything-)basic, heaped onto a steaming pile of excrement.

  • So, Microsoft will essientially provide a way to port legacy apps to Linux and Mac OS X? They really want to reduce their precious vendor lock-in?

    • by SEE ( 7681 )

      Well, we still haven't seen the license. But, assuming a real open source license (say, MS Reciprocal), it would be a big step to those goals.

      And to improving VBA support in things like LibreOffice, too; VBA is a close relative of VB6.

    • Yeah, that what they are saying they'll do. Either we have some aliens pretending to be people (and failing) at Redmond, or Microsoft is lying to us. I can't decide what is more likely...

  • Will they create a community and some kind of entity to manage it all, or are they just releasing it in the hope somebody picks it up? The OS license (if it is FSF compliant) is just a first step to creating a community around it.

  • by mythz ( 857024 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:57PM (#36186474)

    http://twitter.com/#!/dseven/status/71352709785198592 [twitter.com]
    @dseven The rumors of VB6 going open source are simply not true. #msteched #vb6rumor #vb6

    http://twitter.com/#!/dseven/status/71359684904366081 [twitter.com]
    @dseven @beckynagel I'm the Director of Product Management for Visual Studio Tools & Languages. There's no more solid source than me. Its not true.

    • The official statement we got from Microsoft was that the story was not confirmed -- it didn't deny it. Story has been updated with that. Invited Doug Seven to give official comment as well.

      Our source on this is solid. Additional details were confirmed. We do stand by the story.

    • And the person who broke the "news" wasn't even trying to pretend it was true.

      http://twitter.com/#!/RoyOsherove/status/71334987152101376 [twitter.com]
      @RoyOsherove here's a more official video of announcement of VB6 going open source from #msteched http://bit.ly/79qHlZ [bit.ly]

      • We had another source who heard it completely Separately from this source. But after we went back to the source with that denial he pulled his confirmation. We have issued a correction and are working to get the story out there to everyone that the story is NOT true. We are extremly sorry for this.

    • Their public denial is on Twitter? Color me confused but I think someone, somewhere isn't being told the whole truth at M$FT.
    • who'd have thought? from such reputable new sources, too!

      twitter -> reddev -> timothy -> slashdot

      damn, those nyt people must be shaking in their boots.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )
      And nothing of value was lost
  • Honest question. Are they open-sourcing the language spec (and what does that even mean)? Are they open-sourcing the compiler? The libraries used to actually build the code?

    Article was pretty short on details there.

  • I have invested so much time and effort convincing management to let me remove all references to VB6 from our internal systems. If this turns out to be true and some jackass ports legacy support for those awful spaghetti messes to linux I will need professional counseling, and a new job.

    I've been thanking MS for years for the decision to kill off VB6 and will hate them with the fury of a thousand suns if that corpse rises again as an oss zombie.

  • I see where Microsoft says it's not true. But what if MS did open source VB? What would happen? What good and what bad?

      - Lots of old Windows apps become available on Linux. (spread the love)
      - Lots of crap written by just-got-a-book-on-that "programmers" pollutes Linux. (spread the clap)

    When I read the headline, I figured it was an offensive move on MS's part. Sort of a pollute-the-waters strategy.

  • Rob Osherove was joking when he tweeted that VB6 is being open sourced. If you look at his tweets, he followed that tweet with another with a link to "video of the official announcement" which is actually a link to Never Gonna Give Up. Looks like he was rickrolling. Anyway, Dough Seven, the Senior Product Manager of the Visual Team, had also tweeted that the rumors are not true. https://twitter.com/#!/dseven/status/71352709785198592 [twitter.com] via http://digitizor.com/2011/05/20/microsoft-visual-basic-6-not-open-source/ [digitizor.com]
    • Thanks. Too bad though.

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        I don't think that the limited manpower available in the OSS community should be drained by taking over maintenance of the monster VB6 is. If anything, it'd be a true-to-form Trojan Horse "gift" from MS to the OSS folk. Just think about it: instead of cool new things being done, people wasting tons of time tinkering with a dead code base, trying to bring it back, reimplementing whatever bits and pieces are necessary to keep it alive, etc. It'd get way more involvement than a software archaeology project des

  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:40PM (#36186800)
    This would have been nice a decade or so ago when they dumped VB6, resulting in lots of panicked and expensive migrations over to .NET. Many companies had made huge investments in VB6 and felt totally betrayed (I worked for one of them). They were hoping for a new improved version of VB6 to be released (some new features here and there) and instead they got something massively different.

    If VB6 had been some kind of open standard back then, another company would have come along and basically said "Don't panic everyone, your huge investments in VB6 are safe. We are releasing OpenVB Studio and will continue to improve the language.". That would have been a disaster for Microsoft of course.
    • by devent ( 1627873 )

      Services you well to invest in a core business technology that is proprietary and is controlled by a single company. But Microsoft is so big, their technology is a save bet? No, Microsoft is free to change their technology however and whenever they wish, because they are so big they won't care about small firms.

      My ques is that your firm is now replacing the software with a .NET implementation.

  • OMG! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pz ( 113803 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:52PM (#36186914) Journal

    Seriously? News articles where tweets are being used as a primary source?

    That's it, I'm giving up on Slashdot. It's jumped the shark.

  • And nothing of value was gained! :)

    Seriously, though, I have to offer kudos to MS for this, but I still can't help thinking that it's a trap of some sort, given MS's long and sordid history of misdeeds and betrayal. But this is a move I can applaud, even as I eye it with caution (and a rather severe lack of personal interest).

    All assuming its true, which seems to be less than certain [slashdot.org] at this point.

  • Seriously. Come on, a friggin' TWEET from some random twat is CONFIRMATION? O.o

  • VB6 is an American classic just like a 64 Mustang. Forget OOP and just git er done. Its back to the future and I couldn't be happier. Welcome back old friend!
  • I wonder if Miguel de Icza's new company will pick up development...
  • Sounds nice, but I am waiting for the source to Ashton Tate's Full Impact.
  • Phoenix basic looked interesting though not open source
    http://www.janus-software.com/phoenix_features.html [janus-software.com]

    of course, there is vb.net implementation by mono project... I hope they survive the new management though it is open source so theoretically it could be picked up at any point

  • by hackus ( 159037 )

    So confess.

    How many of you losers actually program in that gibberish? ;-)


    • Moved from VB6 to VB.NET. Say what you want, but as a chemical engineer, it was an accessible way of getting things done. Most VB apps I wrote will just run on their WinNT 4.0 computers until the infrastructure they are part of dies. The one I needed to migrate was of course royally fucked. VB.NET is less likely to go the same way, as they would have to drop support for all .NET languages, which would even piss off a core of C++ devs. Because of the .NET framework, VB is now a full featured language,
  • Microsoft denied and went back to our source and they pulled confirmation.

    What language is that supposed to be in?

    • by cpghost ( 719344 )

      What language is that supposed to be in?

      In gossip, compiled into low-level journalism perhaps?

  • Visual Basic (and all its variants, including .net) is an abortion of a language - they can keep it.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann