Despite a concerted online effort by devoted Visual FoxPro developers, Microsoft said late last week that it won’t change its plan to halt work on the venerable database programming tool.

Two Spanish developers have set up a wiki-based web site called MasFoxPro (More FoxPro) calling for Microsoft to continue developing the database and development tool after this summer’s release of Service Pack 2 for Visual FoxPro 9.

Microsoft announced that it would terminate development of the 23-year-old product, which it acquired a decade and a half ago, at its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Summit in Seattle last month.

In a statement emailed to Computerworld on Friday, Jay Roxe, Microsoft’s group product manager for Visual Studio, said that the decision to halt development of FoxPro was considered "very carefully" and remains the only realistic scenario.

"For Microsoft to continue to evolve the FoxPro base, we would need to look at creating a 64-bit development environment, and that would involve an almost complete rewrite of the core product," Roxe said.

"As far as forming a partnership with a third party is concerned, we’ve heard from a number of large FoxPro customers that this would make it impossible for them to continue to use FoxPro since it would no longer be from an approved vendor. We felt that putting the environment into open source on CodePlex [Microsoft’s open-source site], which balances the needs of both the community and the large customers, was the best path forward."

Supporters of the petition, which as of Sunday had garnered more than 2,400 signatures, take the opposite view.

"There is still a lot of life left in FoxPro," said Colin Keeler, director of financial systems for the South Dakota state government and an officer in the Virtual FoxPro User Group. South Dakota has used Visual FoxPro since the early 1990s to create its annual state budget. While the state now uses SQL Server for actual data storage, it still uses FoxPro as its chief front-end development platform.

"We use SQL Server for the heavy lifting but prefer FoxPro for the fine-tuning," he said.