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Long term future of the Auto FE Updater utility and Visual Basic 6
This utility is written in Visual Basic 6 which was released in 1998. As I started working on this utility in 2000 this decision made a lot of sense then. So in one sense it is getting quite long in the tooth. However it still works and works well in Windows 7. There are two major concerns in dealing with the future of Visual Basic 6.
Visual Basic 6 runtime
The Visual Basic 6 runtime is included with Windows 8 and the Auto FE Updater works just fine in Windows 8.
Now a problem is the ARM processor support in Windows 8 for tablet and other low power devices. Office 15 has been ported to the ARM processor as well. I have a plan and will be working on this solution. Fortunately I have at least a year if not two to work on this.
Now even if the runtime isn't included in Windows 9 then you can include the runtime in the same folder that your VB 6.0 exe is located in then it works just fine. The VB 6.0 runtime can be downloaded here but not all of it needs to be redistributed with your app. The required file is a 1.4 Mb file so that's easy to download and use by putting it on the server in the same folder as the Auto FE Updater program. Of course your IT department might not like that solution but then the runtime is digitally signed by Microsoft.
64 bit operating systems
The Auto FE Updater works fine in 64 bit operating systems and should continue to do so for many years to come in the Windows on Windows 32 bit environment. Of course the key word there is should. I will continue to be testing on the betas of new operating systems as they become available.
Alternative compilers for Visual Basic which have been mentioned by VB 6 experts and others are PowerBasic, PureBasic, KBasic and FreeBasic (FBedit code editor) Both Powerbasic and PureBasic have 32 bit and 64 bit versions. I haven't yet done any research on how easy it is to port a VB 6 app to either one but will do so sometime in the future.
Interestingly enough some of those have Mac and Linux editions. So if I could figure out a requirement for the Auto FE Updater on those systems ....
Delphi. is another option but it's is a lot less likely for me to use as it would mean a total rewrite of the utility and they're only just now coming out with a 64 bit version of the compiler. Who knows if they'll come up with an ARM processor compiler.
At about 21K or lines of code in version 3.15 rewriting the code is not a task I'm looking forward to.
VB.Net or C#
The problem with VB.Net, C# or any other current Microsoft solution is that they require the MS Framework, massive (by comparison) runtimes and so on. I was told by experience C# folks, including fellow MVPs, that you pretty much have to ship your VB.Net or C# solution complete with an install set of files. As this would require IT staff to install this becomes exceedingly undesirable.
C or C++
This is also a possibility as these products can easily create stand alone executables which contain the appropriate C++ runtime. I will be porting the Auto FE Updater to C++ in stages.
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