Monday, October 1st 2018

Microsoft Publishes MS-DOS Source Code on GitHub

Considering Microsoft only recently acquired GitHub, it took them no time at all to put the software development platform to good use. Accordingly, the Redmond-based IT giant has set up an online repository from which they could re-release versions 1.25 and 2.0 of MS-DOS. According to Rich Turner, a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, it is "much easier to find, read, and refer to MS-DOS source files if they're in a GitHub repo than in the original downloadable compressed archive file." The compressed archive Turner mentions is the original release of the source code from 2014 when both versions of MS-DOS were first made available via the Computer History Museum after their discovery by Tim Paterson. This is fitting considering Paterson is the original author of 86-DOS, which forms the basis for MS-DOS.

Microsoft has stated that they will ignore any pull requests or changes to the original source code, with the repository instead being kept static more as a historical reference to be used in literature. That said, users are more than welcome to create separate development forks for exploration and experimentation. When it comes to yours truly, while I don't plan to do much experimenting, this has created an itch to relive the past. Maybe I should dust off that old MS-DOS system in the garage and see if it still works.
Source: MS-DOS on GitHub
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13 Comments on Microsoft Publishes MS-DOS Source Code on GitHub

#2
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
That's good, but they're not publishing the latest DOS 6.22, are they? I'm curious why. Anyone have an idea?
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#3
Disparia
code:
GOTBADDOS:
MOV DX,OFFSET DG:BADVER
JMP CERROR


When you got bad dos, mov and jmp!
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#4
DeathtoGnomes
qubit, post: 3914548, member: 46003"
That's good, but they're not publishing the latest DOS 6.22, are they? I'm curious why. Anyone have an idea?
no need to be curious, just ask them!
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#5
StrayKAT
Technically, I think MS-DOS had higher versions than 6.22 (up to Windows ME or XP). No clue what the difference would be though.

I kind of came into PCs right when Windows took over, and only used DOS to launch games. DOS as a front end was dying out by that time.. I feel like I missed out on something.
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#6
DeathtoGnomes
StrayKAT, post: 3914556, member: 174092"
Technically, I think MS-DOS had higher versions than 6.22 (up to Windows ME or XP). No clue what the difference would be though.

I kind of came into PCs right when Windows took over, and only used DOS to launch games. DOS as a front end was dying out by that time.. I feel like I missed out on something.
DOS was critical up to Xp/Vista. Not so much for the average user.
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#7
R-T-B
Good. Now if IBM would opensource OS/2, I might actually toy with it. MS-DOS? Meh. Better free, open source, binary compliant alternatives exist. There still to this day is really nothing quite like OS/2s workplace shell...
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#8
StrayKAT
R-T-B, post: 3914576, member: 41983"
Good. Now if IBM would opensource OS/2, I might actually toy with it. MS-DOS? Meh. Better free, open source, binary compliant alternatives exist. There still to this day is really nothing quite like OS/2s workplace shell...
They really should just do that. No one is going to buy it now.. and some banks and businesses apparently have legacy systems that depend on it (at least they did for awhile).
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#9
R-T-B
StrayKAT, post: 3914582, member: 174092"
They really should just do that. No one is going to buy it now.. and some banks and businesses apparently have legacy systems that depend on it (at least they did for awhile).
There was a petition and they claimed that they couldn't, because MS held rights to some of the code. This makes me think there might be new hope, though.

IIRC, the code held was for the HPFS file system, which is a precursor to NTFS with a 2GB file size limit. I don't think anyone is really going to find that worth stealing and using today...

EDIT: And to my amazement, people are still patching OS/2 up and selling it.
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#11
TheinsanegamerN
StrayKAT, post: 3914556, member: 174092"
Technically, I think MS-DOS had higher versions than 6.22 (up to Windows ME or XP). No clue what the difference would be though.

I kind of came into PCs right when Windows took over, and only used DOS to launch games. DOS as a front end was dying out by that time.. I feel like I missed out on something.
DeathtoGnomes, post: 3914558, member: 151150"
DOS was critical up to Xp/Vista. Not so much for the average user.
DOS was the underpinnings of the 9x kernel, which was technically DOS 7.0 (for windows 95) and DOS 7.1 (for windows 98). DOS was more hidden with windows ME. So yes, DOS lived on under the 9x kernel. DOS 7 was never released as a standalone product, but technically windows 95/98 were just newer versions of WIN.EXE, just like windows 1,2, and 3. Me was a bit more complicated, but that whole OS was a disaster.

Windows 2000 and up were based on the NT kernel, which was NOT DOS. A DOS mode was added for compatibility, but it was not running in DOS itself. It was closer to what you would consider DOSBOX to be: emulation of DOS. Windows 2000/XP struggled with some DOS programs, others didnt run at all, others had weird glitches and bugs. The last OS to be truly based on DOS was windows 98se in "real mode", windows ME did not have the ability to use "real mode" to run in DOS itself.

EDIT: engrish is hard.
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#12
VulkanBros
Ohhh...I remember optimizing the config.sys and autoexec.bat files ....HIMEM, EMM386 and so on......fun times back then :roll:
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#13
efikkan
qubit, post: 3914548, member: 46003"
That's good, but they're not publishing the latest DOS 6.22, are they? I'm curious why. Anyone have an idea?
I know other software from Microsoft usually contain many elements licensed from third parties. Even though Microsoft bought the rights for the original version, they might have licensed other code later on. This could be third parties like IBM, or smaller companies. I'm sure they could get a legal agreement to publish it now, but they probably wouldn't make the effort.

There is also the possibility that unveiling of code can cause legal disputes, there could be code that has uncertain legal status or is simply stolen.

I would still hope that Microsoft could find a way to release version 6.22 and 8.0, even if they have to drop some minor stuff. I've noticed a surge in interest for old MS-DOS games, and I'm confident someone would like to fix a few small things in the source code.

There are still legacy software running DOS around the world, mostly running on compatible OS's like DR-DOS or FreeDOS. I do believe that Dell and HP at least until very recently offered FreeDOS on a range of computers.

StrayKAT, post: 3914556, member: 174092"
Technically, I think MS-DOS had higher versions than 6.22 (up to Windows ME or XP). No clue what the difference would be though.
Yes, 8.0 was the last one, but 6.22 was the last standalone version. Newer versions added support for larger volumes and driver support, among other things.

I remember running dual-boot with Windows 95 (and possibly 98?) and MS-DOS 6.22 for a long time. I don't remember any more what the issue was, but Microsoft certainly broke or dropped some kind of support in 7.x and 8.0, and there were some games that worked better under 6.22. I haven't been running real MS-DOS since the 90s, so I don't remember everything. I just stick to DosBox these days, but I still play some old games regularly, like Jazz Jackrabbit among others.
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