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Microsoft makes VBA apps free

The giant unveils a Web page to showcase a new Visual Basic for Applications toolset, to which more tools will be added, all free of charge.

Microsoft (MSFT) has found a new way to popularize its Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming language: make VBA applications available to developers and end users, free of charge.

Today, the company unveiled a new Web page to showcase a set of tools, called VBA PowerTools, built using the VBA macro language. The tools can be used in Microsoft's Office 97 business applications and in software from other companies, including Visio.

Microsoft today posted 12 VBA PowerTools, including a Word 97 pop-up thesaurus, Excel 97 code cleaner, and Access 97 administration tools, along with a diagram Wizard for Visio. The tools can be downloaded free of charge, and additional tools will be posted on a regular basis, Microsoft said.

Microsoft licenses VBA, the language-only component of its popular Visual Basic Windows development tool, to more than 100 independent software makers that use VBA as a customization language in their packaged software applications.

The VBA PowerTools Web page serves as a showcase to entice developers to use Microsoft's Visual Basic language, to give end users add-on features for applications, and to let software vendors that use VBA in their applications have an easy way to post updated features, according to the company.