Feeds

As WinXP death looms, Microsoft releases its operating system SOURCE CODE for free

Anyone can download it – we did, and it's all there

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Retro-computing fans got a treat on Tuesday when Microsoft donated the source code of MS DOS 1.1 and 2 to the Computer History Museum (CHM), along with the first version of Word for Windows.

"Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12KB of memory, which is tiny compared to today's software," said Len Shustek, CHM chairman. "We think preserving historic source code like these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilization."

The code isn't being open sourced – that would be a step too far for Redmond – but is available under a research license. The code can be downloaded here for MS DOS and here for Word for Windows but not distributed further under the terms of the license. The museum's servers were struggling at time of writing.

MS DOS was famously something of a kludge. Microsoft signed a deal with IBM to provide an operating system for Big Blue's first PC and, because it didn't have an OS, paid Seattle Computer Company $75,000 for its Q-DOS (Quick and dirty operating system) in 1981 and rebadged it as PC DOS for IBM and MS DOS for everyone else.

Two years later Microsoft released MS DOS 2.0, rewriting it to allow support for hard drives of up to 10MB and restructuring the filing system. Sadly it was known for being buggy and began a history of even-numbered versions of Microsoft's DOS operating systems being poorly received by the developer community – a trend it finally broke with the sixth version of the operating system.

Microsoft's Word for Windows package was released in 1989 and exploded in popularity. The word processor started life in 1983 as Multi-Tool Word based on a word processor called Bravo created at Xerox's legendary PARC development center by Charles Simonyi. Gates hired Simonyi to build a version for Redmond and the resulting software went on to bury established players like WordPerfect through a combination of user-friendly features and Microsoft's massive clout in the industry.

"MS-DOS and Word for Windows built the foundation for Microsoft's success in the technology industry," said Roy Levin, distinguished engineer and managing director, Microsoft Research.

"By contributing these source codes to the Computer History Museum archives, Microsoft is making these historic systems from the early era of personal computing available to the community for historical and technical scholarship." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.