FORMAT C: -- MS-DOS source code 'free' (as in lite-beer)

MS-DOS and Word For Windows

BillG blurs the lines.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) releases old source code. MS-DOS and Word For Windows are downloadable (but don't call them 'open').

The Computer History Museum (CHM) hosts the files for us, calling them "historic" and "primitive."

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers go searching for clues.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


Iain Thomson eyes the future:

Retro-computing fans got a treat…when Microsoft donated the source code of MS DOS 1.1 and 2 to the…CHM, along with the first version of Word for Windows.

The code isn't being open sourced…but is available under a research license. … DOS was famously something of a kludge. Microsoft…paid Seattle Computer Company $75,000 for its Q-DOS (Quick and dirty operating system) in 1981 and rebadged it. … Two years later Microsoft released MS DOS 2.0, rewriting it to allow support for hard drives of up to 10MB.

Microsoft's Word for Windows package was released in 1989 and exploded in popularity [going] on to bury established players like WordPerfect.  MORE


Mark Hachman's words:

Microsoft arguably built its business on MS-DOS [because it] later licensed the code to other OEMs. … Microsoft [also] created the BASIC interpreter for the IBM PC.

So if you have an old 8086 processor lying around with nothing to do, try downloading MS-DOS. After all, we all miss the days of batch files and extended memory managers, right?  MORE


And the museum's Len Shustek gushes thuswise:

Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12K bytes of memory, which is tiny compared to today's software.

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.  MORE


But Kurt Mackie makes a point:

There's also a technical reason for WordPerfect's loss of market share, which dragged on through the U.S. court system for years. … It was clear from an old memo that then-CEO Bill Gates had deliberately held back Windows 95 APIs needed by WordPerfect's developers and other wordprocessor makers to complete their applications for Microsoft's emerging operating system at the time, which featured an improved graphical user interface.

Microsoft used the legal system early on to muscle into former hobbyist territory. Over the years, that commoditization has engendered enmity and distrust. [But] Microsoft's move to release MS-DOS and Microsoft Word for Windows as open source code comes about 30 years too late for open source advocates.  MORE


Meanwhile, Jamie Condliffe reminisces:

Back then, Microsoft has less than 100 employees and MS-DOS featured under 300 KB of source code. A lot's changed in a couple of decades.  MORE

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