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What is VBScript and why has Microsoft just finished it?



  Internet Explorer shortcut on a Windows 10 desktop.

VBScript no longer exists. After VBScript was a scripting language that can compete with JavaScript in web browsers, it is disabled by default in all supported versions of Windows after a recent Windows update. But VBScript has faded for years.

Goodbye, VBScript!

On August 1

3, 2019, by default, Microsoft VBScript disabled Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 systems through a Patch Tuesday update. Microsoft released a similar update for Windows 10 on July 9, 2019. Now VBScript is disabled by default on all supported Windows systems with the latest updates installed.

VBScript had already largely disappeared. Microsoft has never supported VBScript in Microsoft Edge, which meant that it was limited to Internet Explorer 11. Other browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari have never implemented VBScript.

VBScript Competing with JavaScript

VBScript was a scripting language modeled on Microsoft Visual Basic. The full name is "Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition".

This language was first used in a consumer product in 1996 when it was added to Internet Explorer. Websites can use VBScript in the same way as JavaScript, and Internet Explorer supports both. However, VBScript worked only in Internet Explorer, while JavaScript was a cross-browser solution that also works in other browsers. This is an important reason why JavaScript has won, and most websites have not adopted VBScript for client-side scripts.

Microsoft has disabled VBScript only in the browser. By default, Internet Explorer 11 no longer runs the VBScript found on Web pages. It was rarely used, but there may still be some old internal corporate websites based on VBScript instead of JavaScript.

Microsoft's edge browser team wrote in 2015 about "saying farewell" to VBScript and other legacy technologies, such as ActiveX, pointing out "JavaScript has become the de facto language of the Web." Edge has never supported VBScript.

VBScript was not just for web browsers

 A VBScript File in File Explorer

While this latest update deals exclusively with Internet Explorer, VBScript was more than that. On the IIS Web server (Internet Information Services) Microsoft can run server-side VBScript. The Windows Script Host (WSH) can run VBScript files, often with the file extension .vbs. It appeared in all sorts of places, eg. For example, in Microsoft Outlook 97, VBScript was used as the macro language, although this was the only Microsoft Office application.

VBScript was used by Windows administrators to create scripts outside the Web browser to replace batch files. But VBScript has long gone out of fashion. Paul Thurrott points out: "Around the turn of the century, Microsoft switched to .NET and VBScript stayed behind.

System administrators who want to automate things with scripts now generally use PowerShell instead of VBScript. Modern versions of Microsoft Office block VBScript controls.

Why is VBScript no longer supported?

This update is no surprise. Already in 2017, Microsoft said that VBScript should be disabled by default in Internet Explorer – this future is now.

VBScript is too old even for Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 11 displays VBScript only for Web pages that are running in an older document mode. Microsoft's edge browser team wrote that this was a "temporary fix". Microsoft may be supporting Internet Explorer 11 for the foreseeable future.

Certainly, Windows has many legacy compatibility features. but VBScript may be dangerous. It is a full scripting language that is available to websites in Internet Explorer, an old web browser. Only a few websites are using it and nobody is developing anymore. Turning off by default is a breeze.

To re-enable VBScript (if absolutely necessary)

This change should have no effect on the vast majority of users. If VBScript is required for a website, it works only in Internet Explorer. Assuming you are not using old sites that are reserved for Internet Explorer only, you are fine. Even if you do, most of these old sites do not use VBScript.

However, if you still need VBScript in Internet Explorer for some reason, you can still use it. System administrators can enable VBScript for specific security zones through a registry or group policy setting.

Microsoft did not find this option easy. That's because this feature is really meant for companies that need it. Normal people should not touch it.

In fact, Microsoft states that these options are only offered "for a limited time". Expect to be unavailable in a future release of Windows 10 and completely remove VBScript support from Internet Explorer.

 Enabling VBScript in Internet Explorer via Group Policy

This language has long been unavailable, but it has long since faded. The current Windows Update does not change much. Most Windows users will not notice that VBScript has been disabled, and they have no reason to worry about it.

RELATED: Opening Old Web Pages in Internet Explorer on Windows 10


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