Friday, May 22nd 2020

Original Xbox & Windows NT 3.5 Source Code Leaks Online

According to The Verge, source code for the original Xbox and Windows NT 3.5 has leaked online. The leak reportedly contains the kernel for the original Xbox OS, build environments, testing emulators, and internal development documents. This leak may help further emulation efforts for the original Xbox which as of now can only play ~40 of the over 900 games released for the console. This isn't the first time Microsoft has suffered a source code leak, with partial Windows 2000 and NT 4 source code leaking back in 2004 but given the age of the software this is unlikely to be of much significance. A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge that "We're aware of these reports and are investigating".
Source: The Verge
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21 Comments on Original Xbox & Windows NT 3.5 Source Code Leaks Online

#1
blazed
OG XBox emulation would be perfect for the ultra low end of PC's. Like, I'm thinking there could be a point in the not too distant future where an optimized emulator could run decently on a next generation Celeron or Android TV box or the like.
Posted on Reply
#2
edbe
The correct title is..

Microsoft leaks source code for Windows NT 3.5 and Xbox..in order to force outdated servers to upgrade and update to current hardware and Windows 10 Server
as for Xbox users to upgrade to newest Xbox or wait till Winter for latest Xbox gen..
Posted on Reply
#3
altcapwn
edbe
The correct title is..

Microsoft leaks source code for Windows NT 3.5 and Xbox..in order to force outdated servers to upgrade and update to current hardware and Windows 10 Server
as for Xbox users to upgrade to newest Xbox or wait till Winter for latest Xbox gen..
Eh boy, if a company still use NT 3.5 as a server, there's a big problem.
Posted on Reply
#5
Octopuss
Who would even play stuff on the original consoles? We're talking what, 1995 here?
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#6
windwhirl
Octopuss
Who would even play stuff on the original consoles? We're talking what, 1995 here?
2001. I don't think it will matter much to anyone outside of the emulation scene... the emulation scene, on the other hand, will probably be really interested.
blazed
OG XBox emulation would be perfect for the ultra low end of PC's. Like, I'm thinking there could be a point in the not too distant future where an optimized emulator could run decently on a next generation Celeron or Android TV box or the like.
It could probably run on today's or even somewhat oldish (say, maybe 5 years old) computers without much trouble, I guess. The original Xbox used a Pentium III CPU and a variant of a GeForce 3 GPU, so right off the start you don't have to deal with translating between completely different CPU archs or obscure/unknown GPU archs (like it happens with nearly every other console before the PS4 or the Xbox One).

The problem is figuring out how everything works without documentation. This leak could help with that.
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#7
miller11
Eh boy, if a company still use NT 3.5 as a server, there's a big problem.
Hah, you're right, it should be upgraded for sure.
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#8
CounterZeus
Octopuss
Who would even play stuff on the original consoles? We're talking what, 1995 here?
I would and it's more like 2002 in EU. My favourite game is only on OG Xbox. I would love to play it again on higher res and with a modern controller.
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#9
TechLurker
Octopuss
Who would even play stuff on the original consoles? We're talking what, 1995 here?
I still have my OG Xbox and PS2, and still boot them up time to time to play some old classic games that I already own for those systems and haven't seen an emu or HD port of.
Posted on Reply
#10
demian_vi
edbe
The correct title is..

Microsoft leaks source code for Windows NT 3.5 and Xbox..in order to force outdated servers to upgrade and update to current hardware and Windows 10 Server
as for Xbox users to upgrade to newest Xbox or wait till Winter for latest Xbox gen..
working in a similar company there's NO WAY Microsoft would leak their source code

in the remote case this was their doing they would have done it in 2001 when they EOLed NT 3.5, not nearly 20 years later when its market share should be less than 1%
they would have leaked windows server 2003 or even 2008
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#11
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
demian_vi
working in a similar company there's NO WAY Microsoft would leak their source code
Someone probably violated their NDA.
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#12
R-T-B
edbe
The correct title is..

Microsoft leaks source code for Windows NT 3.5 and Xbox..in order to force outdated servers to upgrade and update to current hardware and Windows 10 Server
as for Xbox users to upgrade to newest Xbox or wait till Winter for latest Xbox gen..
Yeah no. There is no way that's the reason and no way the source code leak would make these less secure... heck, it might even enable third party patches for ancient exploits.
Posted on Reply
#13
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
R-T-B
Yeah no. There is no way that's the reason and no way the source code leak would make these less secure... heck, it might even enable third party patches for ancient exploits.
Have you ever read a NT 4 for Workstations book? It's eerie how much of it is still true for more modern releases of Windows. ...and when I say book, I mean technical guide for a sysadmin.
Posted on Reply
#14
demian_vi
Aquinus
Someone probably violated their NDA.
yeah that's certainly possible, but that's not a planned leak from Microsoft like our "insider" implied to force customers to upgrade
Posted on Reply
#15
windwhirl
edbe
The correct title is..

Microsoft leaks source code for Windows NT 3.5 and Xbox..in order to force outdated servers to upgrade and update to current hardware and Windows 10 Server
as for Xbox users to upgrade to newest Xbox or wait till Winter for latest Xbox gen..
No-one would ever do this to themselves. Much less Microsoft, considering this kind of things happen:

arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/01/microsoft-investigates-17-year-old-windows-flaw/

A vulnerability that could be exploited all the way from Windows NT 3.1 up to Windows 7. It would be a security nightmare if things like this popped up all the time, because of a source code leak.

That aside, if Microsoft actually wanted to release it, they would have to ensure they are not breaching contracts before releasing it. Windows NT probably shares a lot of code with IBM's OS/2, so it probably will never be legally released to the public...
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#16
R-T-B
Aquinus
Have you ever read a NT 4 for Workstations book? It's eerie how much of it is still true for more modern releases of Windows. ...and when I say book, I mean technical guide for a sysadmin.
Yep.

Mind you NT4 is VERY different from.NT 3.5. The kernel between them underwent a nearly complete rewrite, as NT 3.5 had a lot of shared code with OS/2 from when IBM was working on that with Microsoft jointly. Heck, NT 3.5 even uses the HPFS filesystem instead of NTFS.
windwhirl
Windows NT probably shares a lot of code with IBM's OS/2, so it probably will never be legally released to the public...
IBM actually wanted to open source OS/2 nearly 10 years ago but is bound by patented common code in the NT 3.5 codebase... AKA this.
Posted on Reply
#17
windwhirl
R-T-B
IBM actually wanted to open source OS/2 nearly 10 years ago but is bound by patented common code in the NT 3.5 codebase... AKA this.
Yeah, but are they still willing to pay all the work required? Never mind actually getting it done, say, in this decade:

Sun started discussing open sourcing Java all the way back in 2001, according to Phipps. From 2001 to 2003, it did some investigative work to find out how hard it was going to be.

"Once they decided to go for it, it took us a year to get the code in a state where it could be put under an open source license," Phipps said.

And that was Java, a programming language -- not an entire OS. Java is a project under current development at Sun, which created more than 95 percent of the source in house, and the project's leader, James Gosling, is still with the company.

In the case of OS/2, development ceased more than a decade ago, and a large amount of the code belongs to Microsoft, which is not known for releasing its code.


Even worse, it had been developed in IBM's Boca Raton facility, which closed in 1996. Today, no one knows where all the code actually is: The staff and everything held at Boca has been scattered to the wind, according to Moskowitz.

Assuming IBM even had all the code in one place, it would have to go through all of it, line by line, and find out who wrote what -- an IBM staffer, a Microsoft programmer or a third party.

"Without having all the code, all the contracts and potentially all the access to people ... it's extraordinarily difficult for IBM to determine what is absolutely releaseable unfettered," Moskowitz said.

The code is such a mix of sources that he said he had no idea if something even remotely buildable could be cobbled together.

Moskowitz gave an example of how daunting a prospect assessing OS/2 could be: He had once been charged with clearing an application for release. Going through 100,000 lines of code cost $250,000 and took a team of eight nearly four months to track down all of the contracts and people involved.

Too often, the team would identify a staffer believed to have written a single line of code -- only to discover that they merely rewrote the code, which had initially been authored by another staffer. Then, the task became chasing down the original coder. In some instances, four or five people ultimately may have been responsible for just one line of code.

And that was a simple app. OS/2, until version 3, was a complex, joint Microsoft/IBM development. Originally known as OS/2 NT, it was going to be Microsoft's high-end operating system until the two companies had their highly publicized split in 1990.

At that time, David Cutler, a programmer extraordinaire, defected from DEC to Microsoft and wrote what would be the kernel of Windows NT 3.1.

Prior to that, both companies had programmers working at each other's facilities. Unless every line of code in OS/2 is signed, people vetting the code today will have no way of knowing who wrote a particular bit of code, and when.

Sun has also released the Solaris operating system as an open source project, but was only able to do so because it bought an outright perpetual license in 1994 from Novell, which owned the Unix System V source on which Solaris was based.* In the case of Solaris, Phipps said Sun needed to do four years of due diligence to prepare it for release.

Phipps said such situations often prove just too expensive, because the effort requires nearly as many lawyers as programmers. And without a clear business case, the undertaking may simply prove unjustifiable.

"The investment in patent searches, code scrubbing and due diligence is huge," Phipps said. "It involves a great deal of engineering and a great deal of legal work."

"I can see IBM looking at that and deciding they don't have any money to waste on OS/2, which they won't make any money from anyway," he added.

source: www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3725526
Making a very rough approximation, if 100k lines of code costed somewhere around US$ 250k to open source, and making a guess that OS/2 has more or less the same amount of lines of code that Windows NT 4.0 (11-12 million), that's a lot of money to move around (even for IBM) for no profitable reason and years of hunting down people potentially everywhere in the freaking world, some of them probably dead, others MIA, and a few others who for whatever reason will not answer to IBM calling them.
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#18
R-T-B
windwhirl
Yeah, but are they still willing to pay all the work required? Never mind actually getting it done, say, in this decade:
Never happening frankly, was just a fun tidbit.
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#19
Tartaros
windwhirl
It could probably run on today's or even somewhat oldish (say, maybe 5 years old) computers without much trouble, I guess.
Similar consoles like the Dreamcast were emulated in P4, the one that gave more problems was the PS2 that, but could be emulated in Core 2 Duo era with not many problems, it was a pain in the ass to put it together though. The only reason Xbox hasn't been properly emulated is that no one cares, like the Saturn. Microsoft consoles are uninteresting to the emulation community since there is not a single exclusive on them, you can find all their important games ported on PC.

A Xbox emulator could run on a 2015 Android device, 5.0, maybe quad core and 2gb of ram. The Dreamcast emulator for android run on those specs.
Posted on Reply
#20
R-T-B
Tartaros
The Dreamcast emulator for android run on those specs.
To be fair, the dreamcast is a potato, whereas the Xbox is more like a rocket-potato-from-the-same-time.
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#21
Tartaros
R-T-B
To be fair, the dreamcast is a potato, whereas the Xbox is more like a rocket-potato-from-the-same-time.
The hardware difference is almost neligible nowadays, also the Dreamcast OS is Windows based, there is less difference between Dreamcast and Xbox than to their competition. In fact, Xbox could be considered a revision of Dreamcast, people involved in Dreamcast fled to Microsoft's project when Sega gave up on hardware.

It's quite curious how pc port parity will determine the future interest in the retro community. PS3 emulation has advanced leaps and bounds in the last 2 or 3 years to the point of almost 40% of the game catalogue being fully playable on a console notorious for being a programming hell while X360 emulation is still in technical demos and alphas.
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