At Eurosec yesterday, I learned that as part of the Vista drive to make the O/S safer and remove vulnerabilities, Microsoft are also changing the development tools and libraries. Our old friend strcpy has been replaced by safe_strcpy, and more disturbingly (at least for me), is the fact that printf is being killed off.

I first started programming in "C" back in 1984, and coming hot from using Pascal, I found a lot of it strange and difficult.  However, printf is something I grew to love very quickly, since I had never seen a programming language before with such a powerful and easy-to-use print formatting tool.  Over the years it has been a staple not just for program output but also for formatting debug messages.  In some embedded systems I have used, text output was the only debugging system available, so printf was a godsend.

Yes, of course sometimes I have had problems caused by printf: I remember one system where a crash only happened when debug was enabled.  This turned out to be a problem with sprintf writing to a buffer that was too small, of course only when it had to write out a debug message.

Still, all powerful tools have the power to create a mess as well as fix problems, and I will be sorry to see printf go.  Somehow I never grew to love all that overloaded ">>" stuff for writing text in C++....