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Open Letter Stuff Thats Probably Too Far Out There To Pursue


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Probably Too Much

Why not offer to buy VFP from Microsoft (hmmm 100,000 x $10 = ....) and have it owned by the VFP community? - ?Peter Easson

Bad idea that won't happen. Are you suggesting making VFP Open Source? Who's going to make money on that? (See recent comments from the CEO of Corel) VFP would suffer the problems that I see with Linux. Everyone has their hands in the code...who knows what bugs would be introduced that could cost my clients thousand of dollars or more. The argument against this is that there are more people to fix that bug. That fix may be too late. The damage could already have happened to my client. There are also trade secrets inside the VFP code that MS won't release. How Rushmore really works is one example. -- Craig Berntson
I assumed that Peter was talking about something much more interesting, which doesn't in any way imply open source or trade secrecy complications. Maybe Microsoft should spin off VFP as a separate company in which they hold a stake, but which could be sold in substantial measure to the VFP community itself (or any other astute investor). For Microsoft to seriously entertain such an idea, however, would require them to recognize that VFP is something of great potential value. That's the point of the letter: to help them fully appreciate the value of what they've got. They don't need a lesson in marketing from us. They need to sincerely believe in their product and act in a consistent, rational, profit-seeking way about it. -- ?mda
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IMHO, the most valuable aspect of VFP lies on us, the community. The product is strong by its technical abilities, ok, I can agree, but certainly many of us have many years in software development, infraestructure, OS, networking. An opinion from a 20-year IT pro is heard and respected, the experience of such a person has a significative value, and in the VFP community we can find many persons with this profile. If MS lose this people, it lose many, many more than the money represented by a bunch of sold copies. I'm convinced that someone in MS is seeing the big picture, and in the big picture there is Linux, Java, MySQL, more Linux, J2SE, J2EE, Novell, Corel, IBM, SUN. Can .NET alone deal with this wide "menace"? I certainly VFP can give MS a competitive option in emerging markets, and fit in some segments that .NET is too big, or complex, or simply too new. Add the community value, and -at least for me- the whole picture makes sense only with VFP in it. Certainly MS can use 1% of its engineering force in order to keep the most valuable aspect of the product: the community. Hey, you can say I'm a believer, but I'm not the only one ;)
My 2 cents -- Carlos Perez (sorry for my english..)

If MS bought FoxPro for the Rushmore technology, how would that technology be sold? -- Cindy Winegarden
Anyone looking to purchase VFP from Microsoft would be getting a codebase written in C that makes it difficult to find developers willing or able to work with it. Any significant improvement to VFP has to come to grips with this and it is one reason why you haven't seen significant change to the core of VFP since VFP3. The VFP paradox is, while it is great in it's current implementation, can it continue to be great without the kinds of overhauls that VB has gotten and if it did, would we still use it? jMM
I think there is a possibility that Microsoft's very best marketing strategy is NO strategy. Just give !GIVE! VFP7 away. The whole professional version. Microsoft is really making money on OS, SQL, IIS and other products which comprise the 'business infrastructure'. Just like IE (free), VFP is just a tool that 'glues' users to that infrastructure. Free VFP means lots of developers putting lots of people in seats in front of Microsoft business infrastructure products.

My only question, can they afford the support (can do with IE). Can the existing user community (great folks) stand the heat of all those newbies? -- MikeMcCann
Does anybody knows what MS thinks about VFP, at this point? We are all guessing and sugesting things about VFP's future, but somebody must know something! Perhaps even they know. It's some kind of sin ask then and have a decent and sincere answer, after all we've been doing (and they've been watching)? What about knowing if VFP will be, or not, out of VS Box? MS and the media are talking a lot about "Visual Fred", and it's far from release (for example: "Developers cry foul over new Microsoft language"). -- Fernando Alvares

Attention: The above mentioned article is dated: January 18, 2001. A lot happened since then. DotNetOffsite link to http://gotdotnet.com got a lot better, and is getting widely accepted, as long as you are in the midrange to enterprise development. -- wOOdy
Thanks Mike,
I was just trying to look a bit left field.. Assuming MS is going to let VFP die, then why not try and look at other ways to rescue a product we all believe in. There seems to be a great deal of pessimism out there, but the truth is, we should ALL only be looking forward.
-- Peter Easson
I support the idea of spinning off VFP. After all, we are happy with the product but we are unhappy with the marketing efforts by MS. The strongest point in favour of VFP is, that you can use it to do everything at once, and also use it with another backend and/or frontend. Therefore it is a good idea to take it out of VS and to market it standalone. Sell it to another co. MS could keep a stake, but we could be the driving force. Given the fact that my (and many other's) own professional future are dependant on VFP, we could muster some support, both financially as well as personally, from the community. It is time we start marketing VFP ourselves! -- Oswald Petersen
I don't agree. This "community" is only some hundred active people. But to be successful, we would need ALL the FoxPro users to support the product. But the main problem of the overwhelming part of FoxPro users is that they are a bunch of whining ("The sky is falling!") and stingy whimps, who cannot even afford to regularly buy the biannual updates! If every FoxPro user would buy a copy of VFP9, then MS would be more than happy to invest money. But with the update count of VFP7 and VFP8, it's hard to see any considerable interest of the masses. Just check with your colleagues and friends: How many of them have ordered their copy of VFP9? How many of them have ordered a copy for each developer instead of "sharing" one CD for all? And you think that you could get those people to INVEST into a buyout of VFP? Forget it! They can't even invest 1$ per day for their development tool?
Guess why so many VFP related Thirdparty Toolvendors have vanished? Too few sales...
As long as the VFP users don't realize that MS and we are tied together, that MS has to make money for paying their developers, this can't fly. -- ?wOOdy


I think Osvald is on to something. Microsoft might not be willing to sell VFP outright to another company. However, if they have a piece of ownership, they may consider it. I would hope most (if not all) the VFP development team would work for this new owner. Their familiarity with the codebase along with their relationship with the VFP community would go a long ways towards making the product even stronger. I think the key issue would be the decision of:

1) will VFP run within the DOTNET environment
2) If so, can we use VFP using some type of emulator rather than incorporating the DOTNET namespaces.

What many of us enjoy about VFP is that it is not a DOTNET language. We do not have to assimilate 3400 class libraries. Rewriting VFP to use all of the DOTNET classes would make the language less attractive. If that is the case, program in VB.NET.
Anyone who has done any database development in DOTNET would have to admit the VFP cursor model is much simpler to use. There are some features of DOTNET that could be incorporated into VFP that would be a welcome enhancement. More importantly, separate ownership means the new owner will "MARKET THE PRODUCT". Those of use who love and use the product understand that VFP has a number of attractive features for developers. As I believe Les Pinter wrote a while back, once he tells his customers about the costs savings of having solutions developed in VFP as opposed to DOTNET, they choose the VFP solution, the VFP message can be marketed in other ways that appeal to developers.

JC


See Also:

Open Letter Draft Guidelines
Open Letter Bogus Counter Arguments
Open Letter This Could Be AWaste Of Time

Open Letter Problem Statement Section
Open Letter Factors To Consider Section
Open Letter Options Section
Open Letter Recommendations Section
Open Letter Implementation Section
Category Open Letter To Microsoft
( Topic last updated: 2005.03.11 10:21:51 AM )