Microsoft: We won't evolve Visual Basic programming language but we'll open it to .NET 5

From here on, Visual Basic's future is all about stability and helping developers move applications to .NET Core.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft has revealed it will support Visual Basic on .NET 5 but also that it has no plans to evolve the language. 

As Microsoft's .NET team notes, Visual Basic on .NET Core only supported Class Library and Console applications, but with .NET 5 Visual Basic will support more types of applications written with Windows Forms, WPF, Worker Service, and the ASP.NET Core Web API. 

"We are supporting these application types to provide a good path forward for the existing VB customers who want to migrate their applications to .NET Core," the team said. 

"This allows Visual Basic customers to take advantage of new platform features like side-by-side deployment, cross-platform support, performance and new API improvements."

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While it is adding .NET 5 support, the .NET team says it has no plans to evolve Visual Basic, which supports its goal of language stability and compatibility between Visual Basic for .NET Core and Visual Basic for .NET Framework. 

"The significant number of programmers using Visual Basic demonstrates that its stability and descriptive style is valued," the team said

"Going forward, we do not plan to evolve Visual Basic as a language."  

Microsoft in 2017 outlined that it was departing from its historical "co-evolution strategy" for Visual Basic and C#. Visual Basic, it said, was used by hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom knew C# too, while C# was used by millions of people. 

As Microsoft explained at the time, it was leading with C# for cloud, mobile and development on non-Windows platforms, whereas the focus for Visual Basic would be on Windows "with an emphasis on bringing modern capabilities to existing solutions, developers, enterprises, and scenarios (eg, SQL Azure)".

But as noted by Paul Thurrott, since that shift in 2017, Microsoft has basically "abandoned" Visual Basic and that this announcement from Microsoft confirms it.

"What this means to VB developers is that they might be able to bring their existing codebases forward to .NET Core or, soon, to .NET 5.0, which will replace both the traditional .NET and the open-source and cross-platform .NET Core when it's released in late 2020," he explained.  

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Developers happy with .NET Framework can be assured it will remain supported because it ships with the OS, according to Microsoft. However, Microsoft suggests that developers with applications that use WebForms, Workflow or WCF, which aren't supported on .NET Core, may wish to stay on .NET Framework. 

Microsoft notes that Visual Studio regularly adds new features for developers using Visual Basic and either .NET Core or .NET Framework, such as IntelliCode for Visual Basic. 

"Visual Basic is a great language and a productive development environment. The future of Visual Basic will include both .NET Framework and .NET Core and will focus on stability, the application types listed above, and compatibility between the .NET Core and .NET Framework versions of Visual Basic," the .NET team said. 

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