Monday, May 21, 2007

Business Decision Regarding VFP?

I've had a number of people ask me recently about my position on the announcement that there will be no future versions of Visual FoxPro. Of course, this hardly comes as a surprise. The writing has been on the wall for years. I disagree that this was a business decision made by Microsoft. I believe this was a decision made years ago at Microsoft and that it was driven by egos, not business. Personnel decisions excluded, I'm not sure Microsoft has made a sound business decision related to VFP since they acquired it, unless the decision from day one was simply to kill the market. In that case, my hat is off to Microsoft. They can declare "mission accomplished" in the VFP market place in much the same way George Bush did in Iraq and with equal credibility. In reality, what's done is done and the reason - or lack thereof - behind the decision isn't all that important. I've signed the petition at and think anyone with any interest in VFP should, but I don't expect anything to come of it. I'd love to be wrong.

What frosts me the most about the whole thing is the absolute BS we've been fed about VFP not fitting into .NET. I've had several conversations with Microsoft folk about making VFP part of .NET and they would always come back with silly arguments about "how would you compile …" If there were any merit to those arguments then in reality what they were saying is that VFP is more capable than .NET and if so, what kind of a "business decision" is being made here?

Maybe I'm just being too harsh and those guys at Microsoft just aren't that sharp after all. Maybe even with all of their vast resources the folks at Microsoft just can't figure this stuff out, yet a tiny little company like can.

Ok, ranting aside, the truth is it would've been more difficult to make VFP a .NET language back in the 90's because .NET wasn't as capable then and Microsoft was hell bent against dynamic languages. But now? Microsoft is investing in creating versions of Python and Ruby for .NET and of course already has Jscript. If these dynamic languages can be developed for .NET, there's no reason VFP can't be ported to .NET. The new DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime) for .NET should make this relatively easy. The marketplace has made Microsoft take notice of dynamic languages and as a result, a VFP.NET would take considerably less effort than it would've in the 90s.

Now, ask yourself this, if Microsoft is making business decisions about VFP, don't you think there should be some logic applied across the board? Look at the VFP, Ruby and Python markets. Which market offers millions of lines of code, thousands of developers, hundreds of large customers and hundreds of vertical market applications? Now ask yourself, where's the business decision here?


At 5/22/2007 6:23 PM, Blogger Ted Roche said...

Well said, Mike. I think VFP has a lot of technology left untappedand didn't require a lot of investment to continue on as-is. Microsoft continues to fail to recognize the huge number of specialized vertical-niche applications that are supporting thousands of businesses.

It's made me reconsider all aspects of my business that are dependent on a single vendor.

At 5/22/2007 10:24 PM, Blogger Del Lee said...

Great post, Mike. Market forces eventually required MSFT to resuscitate development on Internet Explorer when they clearly didn't want to. I'm not holding out hope, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that market forces could require them to do the same with VFP.

Ted's comment about the "huge number of [vertical apps]" out there is something many easily forget. SBT ProSeries, Accountmate, Abra, etc. are all written in Fox. That accounts for alot of end users out in the cold if some Vista "feature" were to create problems in the future.

At 5/28/2007 2:25 AM, Blogger Waqar Khan said...

Very good article about the ignoring a well built and famous database application VFP. Microsoft has been ignoring the Foxpro due to move up its own products like mySql with .net. While if they adopt VFP by heart VFP can produce a single platform solution (I mean database+program+report writing+other etc.)


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