As I’ve worked my way through the various oddities of Windows 10, I’ve found that most applications work great. For the most part, anything that worked on Windows 7 works on Windows 10. Visual Basic 6 (VB6) has been one of the few exceptions, so far.
Why install Visual Basic 6? It’s a long-dead program, after all. Well, like many companies out there, mine has a few proprietary programs that were written, long ago, in VB6. The apps work great, so it just hasn’t made sense to spend the time and/or money it would take to upgrade them to VB.Net. Yet, we still need to be able to make minor changes to the programs now and then.
We could keep an old XP machine around just for VB6, or set up a virtual instance of XP, or go for either of those options with Windows 7 (VB6 installed on Win7, though not perfectly). Instead of going those routes, though, I decided to look into getting VB6 properly installed on Windows 10. These notes should work for the Pro and Enterprise editions of both Visual Basic 6 and Visual Studio 6.
Note that this tutorial is really geared toward getting Visual Basic 6 up and running. I do not know whether any of the other Visual Studio applications will work after the steps below have been followed.
Also note that this process will not allow you to install the Data Access components. They just don’t work with Windows 10.
Remove Any Remnants of VB6/VS6
If you’re like me, you probably tried to install Visual Basic 6 on your computer the old fashioned way. When the install failed, you were then left with bits and pieces of VB laying around, and no uninstaller. Luckily, Microsoft wrote up an article about removing Visual Studio manually (How To Manually Uninstall Visual Studio with MSDN Library). I do not believe searching your hard drive for some of the files, as they mention, is necessary. Here are the most important steps to follow:
- Delete the installation folders for any Visual Studio products. Note that the following are the default locations; the actual locations may be different on your system if you did a custom installation or if you are on a 64-Bit computer:
- \Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio
- \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\MSDesigners98
- \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\MSDN
- \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\VS98
- \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Wizards98
- Delete the installation folders for any MSDN Libraries (the previous step may have deleted these if they were installed to the default location). The default folders are as follows:
- Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\MSDN98 (for the MSDN Library for Visual Studio 6.0)
- Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\MSDN (for the MSDN Quarterly Library releases)
- Use Regedit.exe to delete the following Registry keys if they exist:
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\HTML Help Collections
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Visual Basic\6.0
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Visual Component Manager
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Visual Modeler
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Visual Basic\6.0
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Visual Modeler
- If you’re on a 64-Bit system, check here, as well:
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\HTML Help Collections
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Visual Basic\6.0
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Visual Component Manager
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Visual Modeler
- Use Regedit.exe to delete any instance of the key for Visual Studio or MSDN Library under the following keys. Since you don’t have an uninstaller, you probably won’t find anything here. It’s worth looking through the keys, anyway, to see if you find any mentions of Visual Studio or MSDN. WARNING: Do not delete the “Uninstall” key; only delete MSDN or Visual Studio keys listed within it.
- 64-Bit systems only: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall
Prepare Your Files
Now, we need to get all of our files in place. The tool we’re going to use for the installation can actually read off the CDs, but I find it much quicker to have already copied the necessary files to my hard drive. In my case, I setup everything in C:\Visual Studio 6\.
- First, copy the contents of all Visual Basic/Studio 6 and MSDN CDs to the folder you’ve chosen.
- Next, download and extract the Visual Studio SP6 patch (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=9183). Place the extracted contents in a folder named VS6SP6.
- You should end up with a set of directories that look like those shown below. The names aren’t important, as long as you know what’s what.
We’re going to use a handy tool put together by Giorgio Brausi to complete our installation. It takes care of some of the trickier parts of getting Visual Basic/Studio 6 installed on a Windows 10 computer.
- Download Giorgio’s installation program from his website, nuke.vbcorner.net (http://nuke.vbcorner.net/Articles/VB60/VisualStudio6Installer/tabid/93/language/en-US/Default.aspx).
- The program does not need to be installed. Simply extract the contents of the zip file and run vs6installer.exe.
- The first thing we need to do is setup the program’s working folder. This is where the installer program will copy it’s working fileset to. I suggest using a folder you know the program will have permission to access. Something in your Documents folder should work.
- Click the “Set Root folder” button.
- Browse to where you want to create the root folder, then click Make New Folder. Using the tool to make the folder will ensure that it has the necessary permissions. Click “Yes” to confirm that it is the correct location.
- If you want to install the various graphic files included with VS6, then make sure that option is checked.
- Make sure the “Disable Data Access” option is chosen. It should already be selected, by default, on Windows 10 systems.
- Select the edition you will be installing. In my case, I chose Visual Studio 6 Professional Edition. You should choose whatever matches the CDs you are using for the installation. Your options should look similar to this:
- Click the “Step 1” button. The program will now have you select the source location for Visual Basic/Studio’s files. The files can be on CDs, or on your hard drive (as I previously recommended). Select the set of files referenced at the top of the selection window, confirm that the copy procedure is correct, then wait as the necessary files are copied to the new root location.
- Click “Step 2” and select the MSDN files. Technically, you don’t need to install MSDN, but it doesn’t hurt. You will need to select both CDs for this step. After CD1 has finished copying, you will be prompted to select CD2.
- On to “Step 3”. This will prepare the Service Pack 6 files. Browse to and select the files you previously extracted to the VS6SP6 directory.
- You may run into an issue here if you are installing the Professional Edition of VB6/VS6. The Service Pack 6 files that are still available on the Net are actually for the Enterprise Edition. I have, so far, been unable to source a Pro version of SP6. If you get an error about missing files (see below), then simply move on with the installation. We’ll manually install SP6, later.
Install Visual Basic/Studio
Now that our files are in place, it’s time to begin installing the program.
- Click the first Install button.
- Click “Yes” to confirm you wish to continue with the installation.
- The standard installer will now launch. Make your way through it, entering your Serial Number as necessary.
- Make sure to choose the standard Install option, NOT the Server Applications option.
- Keep clicking Next, Continue, OK, etc., until you get to this screen. Click the Custom button.
- The installer tool will have already made the appropriate selections based upon what you chose before launching the installer, so there should be no need to make any changes here. I believe you can install the options besides Visual Basic 6, but they were unnecessary for me. Some of the items under “Data Access” are incompatible with Windows 10. They should already be disabled if you left the “Disable Data Access” option checked in the installer tool.
- If your version of Visual Studio/Basic has a SourceSafe option, then it is probably wise to uncheck that option.
- Here’s how my installation options looked:
- Click Continue and the program will install.
- Click OK when you get the Success message.
- You may need to Restart your system at this point. If so, wait for the restart to finish, then pick up where you left off.
- The MSDN installer will now launch. Make sure to UNCHECK the “Install MSDN” option, then click Next.
- Click “Yes” to the message warning you about not installing MSDN, click Next to skip any additional installers, then UNCHECK “Register Now” and click Finish.
- If you were to check Programs and Features now, you would see that you now have a proper Visual Basic/Studio 6 uninstaller.
Install the MSDN Library
Time to install the MSDN Library. This step is optional, but I recommend it as Visual Basic 6 Help files are only going to get harder to find on the Net as time goes by.
- Click the second Install button.
- Click “Yes” to confirm you want to install MSDN, then make your way through the various screens.
- When you get to the screen below, go ahead and click the “Full” option. You could click the “Custom” button and pick and choose what files to install, but considering the size of modern HDDs, it really isn’t necessary.
- Click OK when installation has finished, and make your way back to the installer tool.
Install Service Pack 6
There are two ways to install Service Pack 6. If you have the proper service pack files for your installation, then you will be able to use the installer tool to launch the installation. If not, then you’ll need to launch the installer manually.
Note that Service Pack 6 only contains updates for Visual Studio, Visual C++, and Visual Basic, and Visual SourceSafe. If you installed any other programs (FoxPro or InterDev), then you should first install Service Pack 5. I find it hard to justify installing those programs, so won’t go over that scenario here.
- If you were able to find the right version of SP6 for your installation, then you can click the third Install button.
- Click “Yes” to confirm you want to install SP6.
- If you were unable to find the correct version of SP6, then find the folder you previously extracted the SP6 files to (during this step), right click on the setupsp6.exe file, and choose “Run as administrator”.
- From here on, the installation of SP6 will be the same for both scenarios.
- Click “Continue”, then click “I Agree”.
- If you get an option to click a “Complete” button, then do so.
- Click “OK” once installation has finished.
A Few More Steps
Just a few more steps until we’re done. These steps will take care of a few errors/annoyances you may encounter.
- Go to the Options tab in the Visual Studio 6 Installer program and click “Create Desktop shortcut”.
- Run the newly created shortcut from your Desktop.
- If you get an “Automation error”, then close VB6, return to the installer tool, and click the “Run As Administrator” option.
- Relaunch VB6, and the error should be gone.
- You can now return to the installer tool and click the “Run As Administrator” option again to turn off that setting. It is not needed after the necessary registrations have been completed.
- We have just one more setting to change. VB6, when run on Windows 10, will experience a delay whenever you draw, move, or resize objects on a Form in the VB IDE. To correct this issue, click the “Set Vista SP2 compatible” button.
- If the “Set Vista SP2 compatible” button does not work, then you may need to set that option manually. To do so, navigate to where VB6 is installed (most likely C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\VB98\).
- Right click on VB6.exe and choose “Properties”.
- Go to the Compatibility tab, check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for” option, and choose “Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)”.
- Click OK, then try running the program again. You should now find that controls can be manipulated without issue.
And you’re done! Visual Basic 6 should now run just as well as it ever did. Now then, time to get back to work on converting those VB6 apps to VB.Net 😉