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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Profitless Twitter: We're looking to raise $1.5... yes, billion
We'll spend the dosh on transactions, biz stuff 'n' sh*t
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.