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VBA Going Away, Macs Now, PCs Soon 255

Posted by kdawson
from the cuts-down-on-the-cross-platform-exploits dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes "As Microsoft drops support for older Office file formats, it looks like Visual Basic for Applications is also going soon. Mac Office 2008 has dropped VBA in favor of enhanced support for AppleScript, and Office 2009 is scheduled to lose it in favor of Mac incompatible Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) or Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). This sounds like the Mother of All Backwards and Cross-Platform Incompatibilities — especially since there appears to be no transition period where both the old and new scripting languages will be simultaneously supported. And as past experience with Visual Studio .NET has shown, upgrade tools are far less than perfect."
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VBA Going Away, Macs Now, PCs Soon

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  • Cross Platform? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:06PM (#22055998)
    So my only cross platform choice for scripting office applications is now OO.org? Sweet Jesus! MS, WTF?
    • Re:Cross Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ricegf (1059658) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:19PM (#22056244) Journal

      This could be good news! We currently have to support MS Office versions of our customizations for Windows, and OOo versions for Linux / Unix. Since Microsoft is forcing us to go back and rewrite the MS Office versions if we upgrade our Windows apps - why not just upgrade to OOo on all platforms, avoid the rewrite cost, and maintain just one set of customizations going forward!

      Yes, yes, I see a great "employee suggestion" fattening my wallet this year...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by risk one (1013529)
        Does ODF have a scripting language defined? That would be a perfect selling point. Switch all your complicated macro-based documents to ODF and this will never happen again.
      • by fermion (181285)
        Excuse me for asking, but isn't OO.org a lot of java, and open source. Wouldn't it be possible, at the corporate level, to do quite a bit of customization, more than possible for mere humans on MS Office.

        I mean if the customizations are kept at a high enough level so not to conflict with updates, then it shouldn't be much different from the stability given by VBA. Do companies do such customization already? Does this make more sense than purchasing MS Visual Studio and learning to develop on it?

        • Re:Cross Platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ricegf (1059658) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:48PM (#22060276) Journal

          Wouldn't it be possible, at the corporate level, to do quite a bit of customization, more than possible for mere humans on MS Office.

          I'm not all corporations, but I've been around a few decades. Here's my 2 cents worth.

          All of the OOo code is licensed [openoffice.org] under the LGPL [gnu.org], and can be freely downloaded [openoffice.org], built and customized. So yes, it's possible. The sky's the limit; it's just software. :-) Several factors make it less likely that a corporation would take this approach, however.

          One is that such a customization would very likely be deemed a "derivative work" by Legal, in which case if it were distributed (e.g., to suppliers for a given project, or even arguably to contractors working for the corporation), then the source must be made available as well. Non-software corporations tend to be allergic to releasing their source code, in my experience, because their lawyers tend to be very conservative. Some manager somewhere will likely have to bet his career by accepting legal liability for the corporation. Will the risk to his career if Something Bad Happens justify the benefit he perceives?

          The issue of support will also likely be raised. What if the customized version breaks - who will "support" it? Yes, yes, we all know the internal team of developers will - assuming they weren't laid off in the last "shareholder value" improvement exercise (a constant risk in corporate America). But IT directors tend to go the other direction, from what I've seen - they want to outsource support (and legal indemnification) for open source software, so it can be treated as if it were proprietary. Proprietary means comfort; a target at which the finger can point if Something Bad Happens. This tendency is likely the foundation of IBM's business case for Symphony, by the way.

          Finally, if a support team were to be established in a corporation to produce a custom version of OOo, they would need to have some type of development environment. As much fun as bashing Microsoft may be, Visual Studio and .NET are not technically inferior products. So a corporation is unlikely to consider that an inferior option to, say, Eclipse technology. Sure, it costs a lot more - but it's a small number of licenses. They probably wouldn't hesitate.

          But in the end, I suspect a lot of corporations just want to write scripts and such without mucking around in the source code proper. The issues most likely to resonate are: (1) How do you efficiently distribute the customizations? (2) How hard are they to develop and maintain? and (3) Can we use them on all of our platforms as is, or do we have to port or (ack!) redevelop for each platform? The third is where Microsoft's "Windows Everywhere" bias may hurt them with this decision to abandon VBA. (Gee, now I'm sure glad we chose to use Python [jython.org] as the scripting language in our internal applications! :-)

    • Re:Cross Platform? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by toQDuj (806112) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:37PM (#22057674) Homepage Journal
      Nope, you misunderstand the strategy employed by Microsoft.

      First, they say they will make a sudden switch, everyone will be stumped, irked, and in various states of disbelief at their ballsy move.
      Then they will "concede" and support both scripting languages for one more version, and people will think they've won, and a gradual transition takes place. Managers are happy because they "made" Microsoft change their position on abandoning VB right away, and Microsoft will be happy because they were planning it all along. The only unhappy few are the IT people that get to recode from one language into another.

      B.
      • Re:Cross Platform? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:26PM (#22069366) Journal
        The great thing is that we've got a bunch of MS Access "applications" that we can't get funding to re-write properly. Once Office doesn't support VBA, they'll have no choice. We'll then migrate them to unix land and probably Sybase, Oracle, or Postgres.

        Allowing business users to have Access is like giving an unsupervised 6 year old a handgun. They can work it, but they have no idea how to be responsible with it and will probably do much more harm than good.
    • Glass House? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Because, as we know, all thing FOSS interoperate perfectly, and the people developing them always do a fantasticly stable and secure and well designed job.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No one ever contended that. The contention is that, when the inevitable conflicts occur, the user is not disenfranchised.
    • Re:Cross Platform? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:48PM (#22058738) Homepage Journal

      I'm not surprised that Microsoft is dropping VBA support for the Mac. After all, the easiest way to kill the Mac as a viable business platform is to make it so that business applications written in VBA on top of Excel or Word no longer work on the Mac. Microsoft is starting to get a little worried about losing desktop marketshare to Apple, and a crippled or incompatible MS Office for Mac would fix that perfectly.

      Forcing people to rewrite VBA applications on Windows, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of fish. One of the primary reasons that OpenOffice.org has problems in the corporate market is that companies have invested heavily in applications written in VBA on top of Word and Excel. If Microsoft forces people to rewrite these applications then the door is suddenly wide open for MS Office replacements.

  • Die Visual Basic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850)
    I hated the years when Visual Basic was thought to be a technical marvel. What were they thinking? And why do companies like to jump on every new thing without evaluating the good from the bad? Maybe some companies just think that everything that MS sends out is an upgrade.
    • by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:20PM (#22056276) Journal
      One word.... RAD. Well, ok, it's really three words.

      With the PHBs having been promised projects developed in half the time with a smaller team, I can see how VB got it's bloated non-type-safe foot in the door.

      And rewriting projects now that are a VB fiasco is making for lots of development jobs ;)
      • The only reason to "rewrite" an application is because it is fundamentally productive.

        I would propose that RAD is not an unreasonable approach to "testing" software.

        Surely most VB is not rewritten, some because it stinks, others because it works, only rarely is a lower level fully justified.

        Maybe this carping is less than fully informed?

        AIK
        • Re:Die Visual Basic (Score:5, Interesting)

          by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:47PM (#22056832) Journal
          Only less than fully informed because I didn't qualify it.

          The rewrite projects I've seen regarding VB to [insert your own language of choice here] seem to be wrapped around a common theme... unsupportable code. While I'm sure there are plenty of enterprise level applications out there written in VB and well-written, the majority of what I've seen takes form level code and spaghetti to a whole new level.

          My only guess as to why this happens with such frequency is the environment in the late 90s where there were more jobs than programmers, too many "Sam's Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 21 Hours" books, and a lack of architecural knowledge leading VB teams down the path of no return.

          What many companies are left with are legacy apps that nobody wants to support, much less enhance. And with webServices, AJAX and all that is Web 2.0, and a bevy of other technologies that people want to utilize, enhancing kludgy enterprise VB apps with no architecture tends to be more expensive than a proper rewrite.

          A funny note: I'm currently contracted to a company that lost all of it's Java/Jade developers when part of the company was sold. In an effort to get the software on supported technology, phase 1 of this project is to reverse engineer the (completely undocumented) application and recreate it in C#. No changes allowed, regardless of best practices. Phase 2 is to completely rewrite it. By reading this could you guess this company is in the oil and gas industry?
          • by AmericanInKiev (453362) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:16PM (#22057372) Homepage
            I think you are criticizing an organic process for choosing the path of least resistance.

            Futile and somewhat incompletely informed spring to mind.

            VB is successful because most of the potential applications for computers are not terribly time or resource constrained, most applications are cost-of-development constrained. VB is chosen because it consistently provides the path of least resistance to the first deliverable result, and executives will always bet on the horse that makes it to the first turn - first.

            I'm suggesting these executives are not silly - they realize that in the rare case that a software becomes truly important, they will invest in an upgrade - but they avoid the upgrade costs on all the other trial balloons that fill the long spans between truly-imperative-software.

            In any cases, engineers who race to the first pole, do so because it keeps them employed, and that ain't so silly either.
            Criticizing a platform for being popular is what is silly in my humble opinion.

            AIK
            • by I8TheWorm (645702) *
              Oh, don't get me wrong. I've written a fair share of applications in VB, and have seen well designed and well written VB code elsewhere.

              I do question the PHBs that decided, after reading an article describing VB as the cost saving miracle snake oil, to hand off huge enterprise application development to people who'd seen nothing but VB. Compared to what I described in the second sentence, I've seen way more 168 form VB applications with no classes, but 16 modules with global variables as far as the eye
              • by AmericanInKiev (453362) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @10:27PM (#22061322) Homepage
                VB was the first language which offered RAD - while at the same time offering the technical breadth and reach of 3rd-party add-ons and access to the Windows API.

                The language is absent the jargon-punctuation cruft of c {};

                And instead closely follows a language with worldwide recognition.

                In some respects c can be compared to latin, or perhaps better to esperanto, which is a contrived language which doesn't resonate with any significant population from birth.

                VB, on the other hand, recognizes and embraces the symbolic similarities between branching in code, and branching in languages. It turns out that the advantage of shadowing a natural language are born out in adoption rates and learning curves.

                I agree, that VB6 had some issues, limitations etc, but notwithstanding the pain of starting over in .Net - The benefits of natural language, and minimal punctuation will continue to accelerate learning of VB over contrived syntaxes.

                  - Again, I am impressed, and you should be as well, that 168-form VB apps could even be written by people who are obviously ill-equipped to produce similar software in any other language. This feat must, at some level, be taken as a complement of the degree to which VB has papered-over a great deal of the complexity of code-writing. I suggest it is a criticism that java, ruby, or perl, hasn't been nearly as effective in bringing systems-design to a broader audience.

                AIK

        • The only reason to "rewrite" an application is because it is fundamentally productive.


          It's the only way to take care of that dratted productivity!

          Chris Mattern
      • by ubrgeek (679399)
        S'Truth. The only two reasons I learned VB was to quickly throw together an NNTP client using a pre-built, purchased ActiveX component that took care of it all for me (and let me hit my deadline and impressed my bosses with a shiny toy) and to get a UI together for the day before a presentation. It's amazing what some neat buttons and textarea boxes can do to impress people. VB was always really good at something. Of that, I'm certain. But it just really never seemed to be the Most Amazing Thing Ever (tm).
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        That and very easy interface generation (which is a big part of RAD, of course). I'm planning* to write an app that uses a generic library to do all the work and platform-specific frontends to wrap everything in a user interface. Using VB for the Windows UI seems reasonable as the VB part wouldn't have to do any actual work, I don't know anything about the Windows API/GDI+, I have a copy of VB6 lying around somewhere and the Windows port isn't of a high enough priority to go with a cleaner approach.


        * Whe
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by angus_rg (1063280)
      At least the egotistical VBS programmers stood upright in comparison to the documenters who thought the HTML "code" they wrote was a programming language. They're still mouth breathers dragging their knuckles on the ground, but still, they could stand.
  • ... is going to feel that one.
  • Unless.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by VValdo (10446) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:12PM (#22056106)
    As Microsoft drops support for older Office file formats, it looks like Visual Basic for Applications is also going soon

    Unless... what if there were only some alternative, open-source project [neooffice.org] that already supports it on Mac [neooffice.org] and a similar ongoing Windows/Linux project [openoffice.org]...

    Oh well, I can dream.

    W
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      What was that about MS claiming their OOXML format is meant to preserve compatibility... What about all those documents out there that use VBA?
      And is this now the 2nd or 3rd time they've completely dropped their scripting language to replace it with something else?

      One of the most often cited reasons for not switching to OpenOffice is that it won't run VBA macros, but it seems MS won't either before long... If the VBA support in openoffice gets up to a usable state, or sun's converter works well, this could
  • Time for Java (Score:5, Informative)

    by teknopurge (199509) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:12PM (#22056108) Homepage
    Not a troll.

    Java has a scripting extension [sun.com]. No, not Javascript(only), but you can plug various Scripting languages [java.net] into it, or use Judo [judoscript.com] which is the real endgame for this problem.
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:51PM (#22057890)

      Not a troll.
      "Saying that Java is nice because it works on all OSes is like saying
      that anal sex is nice because it works on all genders."
      (Alanna)

      Sort of a troll but it's still funny. :)
      • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:46PM (#22058712)
        "Saying that Java is nice because it works on all OSes is like saying
        that anal sex is nice because it works on all genders."

        Try species.

        Baaa means YES.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kat_skan (5219)

          "Saying that Java is nice because it works on all OSes is like saying that anal sex is nice because it works on all genders."

          Try species.

          You are either incredibly macho, or trying to get someone mauled to death by bears for a very unusual reason.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:13PM (#22056142) Homepage Journal
    So Mac you thought you where so funny. Well take this! "PC throws a chair label Cross platform compatability right out a Window".
    So what you going to do about Mister I am so much cooler than a PC!.
    Mac pick up the phone.
    "Hello Open Office org?, Yea this is Mac I have a message from Steve for you. How would you like a big pile of cash and about a hundred programers? Really great they will be right over."
    • More like "Hello, Apple division that programs iWork?, this is Steve, get your asses in gear, we're not paying you to sit around not creating a alternative to VBA!"

              Brett
  • by TW Atwater (1145245) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:17PM (#22056216)
    Let me know when they dump Windows.
  • What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?
    • by 0racle (667029)
      Well, you get to rewrite all your macros if/when you upgrade.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:33PM (#22056564) Homepage

      What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?

      Screwed over and locked in, with no cross-platform support?

      Flippancy aside, Microsoft trots out what they decree is the Next Big Thing about every 4-5 years. In the process, they act like what they used to call the New Hotness is a smelly pile they want to get away from, and drop support for it. Of course, it was a smelly pile in the first place, but it was their smelly pile and they wanted you to buy it and spent a lot of money convincing you it was good.

      In the mean time, companies have spent a lot of money supporting and implementing the technologies, buying training, books, etc. Then you re-start the cycle all over again. This is just the next in a long-line of technologies that Microsoft has swept under the rug and moved on. Then a whole new gravy train starts.

      Of course, they get the added benefit that you will have even less support and functionality on Mac OS. And, if that is the case, then why would someone by a Mac when they need Office?

      I suspect this is 1/3 "technical", 1/3 "strategic", and 1/3 "because we can, bitches".

      In the end, who is to stop them? The customers never leave en masse like people have been predicting for as long as I can remember. People adopt the technologies. And, everyone just sucks it up and gets on with their day.

      Trotting new, unfinished technologies and dropping older, unfinished technologies and charging for it is Microsoft's bread and butter. It's one big hamster wheel. :-P

      Cheers
      • by LilGuy (150110)
        It's hard to just trash a contract and all the "support" that comes with it for something totally different and possibly unreliable (hah).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syousef (465911)
        In the end, who is to stop them? The customers never leave en masse like people have been predicting for as long as I can remember. People adopt the technologies. And, everyone just sucks it up and gets on with their day.

        Customers have no real loyalty. They buy Office because they've got a pile of office documents. Things like VBA and the UI for Office have changed in the past but for the most part they've been incremental changes that can be dealt with easily compared to changing products.

        My first version
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      What is the difference? What do you get by replacing VBA with VSTO or VSTA?

      Is it just me, or are they pushing another ViSTA?

      If it's not just me, then you get lots of incompatibilities, slow performance, slow adoption rate, users downgrading or migrating to other systems, and several people impressed with some shiny stuff most of us have had for years now.

  • adios vba (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:18PM (#22056230) Homepage Journal
    dim vbaRelevancy
    set vbaRelevancy=new activeXObject("vbaWantsToLive")
    if vbaRelevancy.microsoftBacking(2009)=false then Office2009="VSTO"
    set vbaRelevancy=nothing

  • Microsoft Tools... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RocketScientist (15198) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:19PM (#22056254)
    So yeah. VBA is going away. I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P), now when the version of office it's running under isn't security patched anymore that code's either tossed or re-written from scratch.

    And DTS, Data Transformation Services, is already gone. Doesn't work under 64-bit editions of SQL Server 2005. The upgrade tool is worthless. However I did learn something between VBA and when DTS shipped, and I didn't ever get on the DTS bandwagon. So all the bailing-wire-esque scripts I wrote using T-SQL, script files, and Perl to do file formatting that I wrote 8 years ago will keep running forever, while the DTS stuff that someone wrote last year won't work now.

    Choose your tools carefully, and work as low as you can, but no lower.
    • by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:26PM (#22056398) Journal

      I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P),
      You should have been a hooker. It would have done less damage to your soul and self-respect. :)
      • I wrote a bunch of VBA many years ago (hey, I was young and needed the money :P),
        You should have been a hooker. It would have done less damage to your soul and self-respect. :)

        In either case, the parent poster should be considered a carrier of disease and you should not engage in sexual contact or shared needle drug use with him.

        And wash your hands with warm, soapy water after reading his posts.

  • by filbranden (1168407) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:21PM (#22056292)

    Well, this news are for Open Office (and other open source office suites) what Vista was for Linux! If Microsoft continues shooting itself on its foot, open source software will have no trouble at all to gain its deserved market share!

    • by powerlord (28156)

      Well, this news are for Open Office (and other open source office suites) what Vista was for OSX! If Microsoft continues shooting itself on its foot, well built alternatives will have no trouble at all to gain its deserved market share!

      There. Fixed that for ya. :)

      Actually kidding aside, you may have a point. I have a few non-technical people who are getting tired of MS, and are talking about getting another XP PC, but also converting their existing PC to Linux "to play with".

      I've also heard a few of them

  • by alexhs (877055) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:23PM (#22056352) Homepage Journal
    I find it amazing how MS is eager to cut the branch it's sitting on these times.
    I thought VBA was one of the major reasons for businesses to not switch to alternatives : because they developped in-house lots of VBA code to achieve some tasks, that would tie them to the MS-Office suite.
    • What good does it do msft if you stay with office-2003, or earlier? If you did that, then you might just as well stay with XP - or earlier. And if you stayed with old XP and Office, then you might also stay old ms-exchange, and old windows-server, and so on.

      The way things are supposed to work is: one person in the office uses the new msft application language. But for anybody else to use those macros, they have to upgrade ms-office, which mean they will have to upgrade their OS, which means an upgrade for e
    • Goodbye to VB (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:11PM (#22059912) Homepage Journal
      They've shifted scripting paradigms before. Word used to have its own dialect of Basic, and Excel originally did all its scripting with those @ functions.

      What's really painful is not the death of VBA as such. What's painful is Microsoft's decision to do away with the whole Visual Basic paradigm without providing anything to replace it.

      What do I mean by by "Visual Basic paradigm"? I don't mean the (very sucky [ddj.com]) language. I mean the integration of the language to all those COM interfaces that permeate Microsoftland, including Office. These COM interfaces are all part of object frameworks, but because they're interfaces rather than objects, you don't have to master the object framework in order to use them

      When MS got bored with COM and decided to move on to .NET, they neglected to replicate this functionality. They did provide a .NET version of VB, but it's just another OO language. So VB.NET programmers have to master the .NET object framework. Might as well learn C# and be done with it.

      I'm a user of OneNote, which was the first MS Office application to be released without a builtin Visual Basic engine. You can automate OneNote, but the learning curve's much steeper than it would be with VBA. I've never found time to assault it.

      Even though I've always despised the pre-.NET dialect of Visual Basic, I find I'm missing it terribly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by p0tat03 (985078)

        IMHO the problem has always been that VB was designed as a low-barrier-to-entry method to getting some quick one-off code to work. Say I wanted to sort my Excel fields in a weird unconventional way, VBA to the rescue! Maybe 20-30 lines of code and BAM, my spreadsheet is beautiful.

        But in the midst of all of this MS never provided a "proper" programming interface, thus spawning an ungodly and scary amount of VBA spaghetti-code projects that just won't die. In realizing this they tried to fix it by releasing

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Honestly, I think you have it backwards. The combination of Office 2007 and VSTO is the only thing that seems, to me, like a killer app out of this generation of MS stuff. Anything they can do to nudge more people to get rolling on it is probably smart.

      First, take as a given the ubiquity of Office (outside of slashdot-land). I've worked as a consultant in dozens of different companies with a wide variety of platforms. Some of them were, codewise, Microsoft shops, sure. Lots were Java shops full of peop
  • On the one hand, there's a potential short-term, albeit unpleasant, cash cow there for someone who wants to take all that VBA garbage and make it work in the "latest and greatest" Microsoft offering.

    On the other hand... their "latest and greatest" probably isn't all that much better, and probably will carry a hefty price tag.

  • Don't mind at all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Killer Eye (3711) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:25PM (#22056394)
    I don't mind seeing software companies trash their customers' investments this way. It just means that more people will learn (albeit the hard way) just how tied they are to the whims of their vendors, and seek a way to end the pain. The outcomes of that are generally a step forward for the industry.

    For example, this could cause some people to start demanding more of their software vendors (e.g. open formats, better support contracts, whatever). Or it could cause them to look at free/open formats and software as a way to avoid this problem in the future.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:42PM (#22056718) Homepage

      I don't mind seeing software companies trash their customers' investments this way. It just means that more people will learn (albeit the hard way) just how tied they are to the whims of their vendors, and seek a way to end the pain. ...snip...

      For example, this could cause some people to start demanding more of their software vendors (e.g. open formats, better support contracts, whatever).

      It's a nice sentiment, it really is. However, after having watched this happen with several Microsoft technologies over the years, I don't believe it's any more likely this time around.

      People have been saying that about Microsoft for at least 15 years now. I fail to see why this one would be significantly different unless a lot of things have changed.

      Microsoft just simply has too much leverage -- people will do this because they have no choice, or because they've already drank the kool-aid and are completely on board.

      Cheers
      • by ciggieposeur (715798) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:36PM (#22057648)
        I fail to see why this one would be significantly different unless a lot of things have changed.

        I think a lot of things have changed in the last 7 years. The Internet can now be 90% used quite nicely with Firefox/Konq/Opera/Safari/etc.; OOo is actually pretty usable for a lot of low-level stuff so only a (relatively) few serious professionals really need the more advanced features of MS Office; there are reasonable F/OSS alternatives to almost all of the large desktop packages (except for vertical market packages); gaming consoles are now powerful enough to run arcade-quality games; and the Mac platform has made a comeback in a major way.

        I'm not sure exactly when the tipping point was, but sometime in the last 3 years I've noticed that an awful lot of people have stopped equating "computer" to Windows. I don't expect a massive migration away from MS software, but I also don't see nearly so much pressure in the form of must-have features to remain on the platform.

      • I agree with the other poster. Things have changed.

        1. I just got an e-mail from a student who couldn't use our Blackboard discussion group. Switching from IE to Firefox solved the problem.

        2. My son the other day was creating a birthday invitation (part had to be rotated 180). In all truth, he found it easier to use OO than Word (we were both scratching our heads about Word's help on this issue). We started with Word and switched to OO to complete the task.

        3. My school is rolling out MS Exchange, but it's be
  • And as past experience with Visual Studio .NET has shown, upgrade tools are far less than perfect

    What the hell is the point of that statement??

    1) It has nothing to do with the software in focus.

    2) Converting from framework 1.0 to 1.1 was almost effortless, and while converting from 1.1 to 2.0 usually took a tad bit of refinement, compiling a 2.0 application for the 3.0 or 3.5 framework is trivial. VS.Net 2k8 has the option built in so that you can work on 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 framework compilations with nothing more than a project property change.

    3) The VB6 to .Net 1.0 converter was actually highly funct

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrSteveSD (801820)
      The conversion tools just died on some of the code we tried them on. Also if you ever did anything clever in VB to try to get around it's limitations, the conversion tools were a disaster. On top of that, conversion from VB6 is flawed even in principle because .NET does not have deterministic finalization, so if you ever had important code to be run when a VB object expired, all of that would need to be manually changed.

      Realizing that conversion was not an option, we instead decided to write all new stuf
      • by RingDev (879105)

        There are a lot of companies out there that have invested huge amounts of money in developing VB products and many of them just do not have the finances to rewrite everything.

        EXACTLY! There is no reason to re-write the vast majority of VB6 programs out there. Assuming a program written in VB6 is mature, stable, and feature full, requiring only the occasional maintenance work or tweaking, there is really no reason to make such a huge investment. Heck back in 2001-2003, even if it's not finished, but you already have a staff of skilled VB6 developers working on it, just finish it in VB6. The cost of re-tooling your IT department mid-stream would be outlandish, not to mention the

        • by MrSteveSD (801820)

          EXACTLY! There is no reason to re-write the vast majority of VB6 programs out there. Assuming a program written in VB6 is mature, stable, and feature full, requiring only the occasional maintenance work or tweaking, there is really no reason to make such a huge investment.

          Without continued support for the language, no company in their right mind would buy a VB6 product. That's why it's a big problem. In fact there are plenty of problems with VB6 applications on newer operating systems. I know people have also had problems installing the development tools as well.

  • by Shados (741919)
    Office 2003 is supported now. So's 2008. So there's your transition period. Oh, you mean in the same product? Do it like you would any other enterprise application: do a parallel deployement. Once thats done, phase it out.

    All serious MS devs knew about this event years ago, no news there.
  • About time I reckon. VB was genuinely useful for a while, but the industry grew up past it and now it's just an insecure relic.

    Corps need to get their bespoke VBA apps onto the web and be done with it.
  • This announcement was misinterpreted by almost everyone. This was supposed to be titled: Roadmap for OOXML. Those crazy marketing-droids got it mixed up again... hmmmmm
    • This announcement was misinterpreted by almost everyone. This was supposed to be titled: Roadmap for OOXML.

      I had thought about titling it that, but needed something catchy so that the Slashdot moderators would accept my submission before someone else submitted a dup.

  • by cheros (223479) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:32PM (#22056536)
    I guess moving to OO or StarOffice would not be such a bad move after all then. La least the macro language is consistent across apllications as well as platforms.

    I guess the only question remaining is why you would run Windows after that, but you should ave been asking that question quite a while back ..
  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:33PM (#22056548)
    Good. Can we have our zero-based arrays back now?
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:40PM (#22056676)
    No VBA support in the next version of Office for Windows? It's great in terms of eliminating a huge security risk. It's terrible in terms of backward compatibility.

    Maybe Microsoft doesn't get this. Companies use SAP, Oracle Financials, SAS, etc. to store and crunch aggregate data. I have never worked in a company that doesn't literally run on hacked-together Access "applications" and Excel macros. Business users pull all that data out of SAP et al and work on it using tools they develop. In many cases, that's because the IT department is too swamped to help them build a proper app, or because it's too much bureaucratic red tape to build an application.

    Admittedly, they are replacing it with VSTA. However, any tool that is less forgiving on business-level users' programming mistakes isn't going to be adopted quietly. There's also the cross-platform problem with Mac Office, and the fact that tons of Excel macros and other stuff will need to be rewritten.

    If I were Microsoft, I'd build in a highly crippled "compatibility sandbox" that throws up tons of warnings, but runs _most_ non-dangerous VBA code. They did this with Microsoft Graph and other Excel add-ons to encourage people to move on while preserving backward compatibility.

    The reversal of the SP3 file format disabling was an easy fix...this one won't be so easy to unwind.
  • I'm convinced that although the durability of product features is almost entirely governed by the time horizons of employees within companies.

    The only way you get consistent backward compatibility and a consistent style is when the product is being developed and managed by a consistent set of people.

    So much of the important stuff is in peoples' minds and hearts.

    You can embed the important stuff on paper, of course, with standards and style guides. But people only follow them... to the spirit, not to the let
  • Aww... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nog_lorp (896553) *
    Sad, that was always my favorite "thing that schools never secure". You can just about always get into VBA macros on Word, and use that to run a command line or regedit or etc.
  • Typical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GreatDrok (684119) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:49PM (#22056900) Journal
    All the UNIX skills I developed over the last 20 years are still useful. So glad I haven't bothered to spend any time on the MS treadmill. Heck, all the software I wrote over the last 20 years can still be compiled and runs happily on a modern machine that is hundreds of times faster than the SPARCstation 1 I used to run on.

    Do you think the PHBs will ever learn that using proprietary systems like Windows may seem cheaper in the short term but in the long run you open your wallet and let them take take take?
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Do you think the PHBs will ever learn that using proprietary systems like Windows may seem cheaper in the short term but in the long run you open your wallet and let them take take take?

      They haven't yet.
    • Re:Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw (121541) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:58PM (#22058888) Journal

      Do you think the PHBs will ever learn that using proprietary systems like Windows may seem cheaper in the short term but in the long run you open your wallet and let them take take take?
      PHBs are compensated for short term performance and in the long term work at a different company. Microsoft provides exactly the correct solution for this market.
  • I can understand, a little, why MS might want do this. It could be argued that it will be less of a headache to support the scripting functionality best suited to each platform. But that really wears a little thin when if they would finally support Mac development in Visual Studio they might finally have the one ring to bind and rule them all, so to speak. Visual Studio is a pretty good development platform, for Windows, why not extend it to Mac? And then from there, would it be so hard to allow developers
    • Visual Studio is a pretty good development platform, for Windows, why not extend it to Mac?

      I think because XCode is pretty good too, and then are NetBeans and Eclipse. The Mac userbase might not really want to go VS.NET even if it was available and priced the same as the others (i.e. free).

      But what do I know? My development platform is Emacs + make/bjam. :)
  • Mac Office 2008 has dropped VBA in favor of enhanced support for AppleScript...

    So MS is ditching its homemade scripting language in favor of Apple's? MS, within the Mac platform at least, is moving towards openness? Is this a trick? Is this a new embrace and extend? This just sounds...bizarre.

    By the way, has anyone got MacOffice 2008 yet? Is it very different from the previous version?
  • Whither EndNote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Arguments about open source alternatives aside, doesn't EndNote use VBA for all of it's scripting? I'm sure it's fine for the Windows side for which they can add in VSTA/VSTO support, but won't this kill EndNote for the Mac? I seem to recall that EndNote uses VBA for all of its formatting and layout within Word.

    I'm a grad student in biology and we are almost entirely a Mac group (it's seems to be rare to see a completely PC bio group these days I think). It would be quite a shame if this decision had rat
  • by strcpy(NULL,... (1089693) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:33PM (#22057596)
    MS is not trying to improve their product by removing/upgrading VBA.. They just want to kill Mac. By providing different scripting languages for the two platforms, they are going to eliminate Macs from being used for business. Since most of your customers don't have Macs, you can't use a Mac to write a document with macros in it. So, you have to buy Windows.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:47PM (#22057826)
    How in the hell are businesses supposed to keep up with this shit? Ok, back in the day everybody was using midrange computers. End users were either sitting at terminals or were later at PC's with terminal emulation. Programs were written once and then maintained for decades. Whenever the midrange or mainframe was updated, all of the old stuff worked but now you could create new stuff to take advantage of greater speed, memory, features, etc. This is a proper and correct understanding of the past, yes?

    So how in the fucking christ are companies supposed to operate today? Operating systems are only sold for several years and then the new one comes out. The what, five year stretch for XP, that's an anomaly, MS wants to churn it faster. So you have new operating systems and thus new bugs for the client app, and legacy apps for shit like Office will be completely horked. The old standby of "Well, we just won't upgrade for a bit, give us time to write something new," that becomes harder because you can't buy the old softare anymore. Even if you say fuck it, I'm going to pirate it, eventually the new hardware won't have driver support for the old OS.

    From what I see, my perspective only being on the periphery of the programmers, it looks like anyone tightly wedded to Microsoft products will be doing the upgrade shuffle every few years and have to rewrite lots and lots of code.

    I agree with the other posters, this sounds like a huge win for open source but a completely incomprehensible move for Microsoft. Where the hell is the bonus here for them? Normally I can see the evil, malicious genius in their actions but since Vista I'm at a loss, it just seems like stupid evil now.
  • by Carcass666 (539381) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:28PM (#22058436)

    I work at a company that does transcription and the only reason we have stuck with Word was that we have been able to continue utilizing the considerable VBA macro code base we have maintained since Word 97. With the various Word updates, there have been some hiccups, but for the most part, we've been able to keep the same code for Word 97 even through the abomination that is Word 2007. Before you guys start pulling out the flamethrower, in 97 you had Word and WordPerfect, and WordPerfect was busy figuring out how to kill whatever marketshare they still had.

    If I have to rewrite everything to work with the next rev of Word, and we have to tell all our transcriptionists they have have to buy the latest (and probably not greatest version) of Word, what incentive would I have not to seriously consider a migration to Open Office?

    This idea was probably thought up by the same genius that decided to shut off backward-file compatibility and save as formatted text filters.

  • Is Office still built on COM? *That* would be a good reason to kill VBA (since VBA is just a thin wrapper around a subset of COM). Office Automation from .Net is not remotely as friendly as it was from VB6 or VBA because Office is still built in COM and it has a different memory model than .Net. Last I checked, you have to clear every object, force a garbage collection, and repeat a couple of times to *probably* clear the memory the Office objects were using.

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