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

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," …

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For a moment I thought it might be XP, and Microsoft were hoping that the community would pick it up to fix any security holes that are found after April 8th.

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Are you insane?

Black hats would be combing it over for vulnerabilities applicable to Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 too. The community might be able to fix vulnerabilities in XP, but they definitely couldn't with the newer operating systems.

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Re: Are you insane?

"Black hats would be combing it over for vulnerabilities applicable to Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 too."

So the same as MS-DOS 1.1 then.

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Re: Are you insane?

Actually people would stop using the newer systems after Windows XP was open sourced. After all open sourcing would mean that it's going to get a thorough cleanup while still making it compatible.

Just imagine an operating system 100% compatible with Windows, but without all the useless crap added in the newer versions?

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Microsoft is not interested in having the community taking care of XP, and thereby competing with Win8.

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Re: Are you insane?

"Actually people would stop using the newer systems after Windows XP was open sourced. After all open sourcing would mean that it's going to get a thorough cleanup while still making it compatible."

Rubbish, the first 10 years of effort would be retrofitting some kind of skinning, then the community would start work on four hundred Notepad replacements...

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Re: Are you insane?

> So the same as MS-DOS 1.1 then.

Yes. But without the joke.

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Trollface

> Microsoft is not interested in having the community taking care of XP, and thereby competing with Win8.

More to the point, it is XP in different suit.

Ok, in a hipster beret, daggy shorts and a flat sheet for a shirt.

Ooh? What is this? NT 3.51?

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JDX
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Re: Are you insane?

>>Just imagine an operating system 100% compatible with Windows, but without all the useless crap added in the newer versions?

Like performance and security features - yeah what a waste of time.

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Re: Are you insane?

Just imagine an operating system 100% compatible with Windows, but without all the useless crap added in the newer versions?

A better Windows then Windows....

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Re: Are you insane?

"Black hats would be combing it over for vulnerabilities applicable to Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 too. The community might be able to fix vulnerabilities in XP, but they definitely couldn't with the newer operating systems."

I'm not sure why people seem to be under the impression that you need the source code to find vulnerabilities. There's this old fashioned tool called a disassembler and any black or white hat worth their salt can speak assembly language. All you need is the binary. Yes, its more work but it can be done.

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Re: Are you insane?

@Boltar

But a disassembler doesn't nicely highlight all the bits that say /* BUGBUG */

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Re: Are you insane?

100% compatibile with which version of Windows? The newer versions has a lot of kernel changes and optimizations for newer hardware - multicored CPUs, virtualization support, large memory address spaces, high speed PCIe buses, MSI interrupts, SSD disks, etc etc. - and introduced newer APIs to support new features. But of course many "experts" here can't see beyond the GUI... when they hear the word "interrupt" they think about a birth-control method...

Do you believe a 100% XP compatible OS would be interesting but for very low-end users who still want to run a thirteen years old operating system on old hardware? Why not run Windows 3.1 or MS DOS 5.0, then?

I have no interest in writing software that can't take advantage of actual hardware features and power - and we're dropping XP support as well, it will allow us to write better software.

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I have free copies of XP...

... That is, the characters "X" and "P" I can email to anyone.

Deceiving headline is deceiving.

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Anonymous Coward

Great - they can hopefully use this to bring Open Office up to the capabilities of Word 1.0

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Re: Are you insane?

You forgot forking it in at least five different distros each with its own GUI and its API...

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Re: Are you insane?

>I have no interest in writing software that can't take advantage of actual hardware features

>and power - and we're dropping XP support as well, it will allow us to write better software.

Err, what? Unless you're writing to the metal for some game engine or highly optimised DB , then API changes aside your code should be hardware agnostic. Its the OS that worries for example about which CPU core to use or how to best buffer the data to the disk and when , not you.

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Windows

Re: Are you insane?

"Like performance and security features - yeah what a waste of time."

Well it's not like they actually did anything...

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Re: I have free copies of XP...

Sounds like that woman that sold mobile phones on eBay. Only she put a little rider in the small print, one that guaranteed that the successful buyer only got photos of the phones.

Nikki something or other...

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Re: Are you insane?

It's clear you don't know what there's new in 7 and 8 at the API level. I'd suggest you to read the relevant documentation, because it's too long to write it here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh920512(v=vs.85).aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh920510(v=vs.85).aspx

It's pretty clear that many "experts" here still think Windows is a GUI only and not a whole operating system. Even if you don't write games engines or DBs, these new APIs:

Processes and threads: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd405527(v=vs.85).aspx

Services: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd405528(v=vs.85).aspx

Synchronization: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd405529(v=vs.85).aspx

Help you to write better highly parallel and scalable software. Of course if you just write "web applications" only in javascript all these doesn't apply to you, somebody else is already taking care of it for you.

I guess I will see more downvoters here, because being shown their ignorance will sting them.

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Re: Are you insane?

Like http://www.reactos.org/ ?

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Re: Are you insane?

But I thought XP was just 2000 with useless crap and a fisher price interface. And had huge security holes like everything being run as admin, and programs being able to write to each others' folders. Funny how its now praised as being great.

I never was much a fan of XP; it didn't offer much over 2000, and was only an improvement to those who were previously on 9x/Me. Windows 7 onwards meanwhile does have improvements under the hood, whether better support for newer hardware like SSDs, improved security model, and I like being able to launch programs by typing the name or clicking on the taskbar, rather than scrolling through a big list of every app. Anything was better than DOS or Windows 9x though.

If you don't want the extra crap, go get NT 3.5.

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Like most software companies then.

Meanwhile, how well does http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReactOS work, if that's what you want?

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Re: Are you insane?

Perhaps you get down voted because snarky smart *ss comments are considered juvenile and rude but perhaps that is too simple for your far superior mind.

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Re: Are you insane?

I agree - I not only love the history revisionism that portrays Windows XP (hated by geeks at the time) as now some golden age of Microsoft operating systems, but you have people actively wanting to run an OS targetted on machines less powerful than three year old smartphones. Apparently all those years when MS was criticised for the security model was just a joke.

Yes, it's a shame that people do have to upgrade once every 10 years even if they don't care for the new "up-front" features, and yes software companies do therefore get to earn money in return for continuing to upgrade the OS for new hardware, and fixing security issues. But personally I love living in a future where even my phone runs rings around my Windows 2000 desktop PC, let alone the hardware I have in my laptop. I wouldn't trade that just to save an upgrade fee that's required to take advantage of it, and if I was that against it, there are free operating systems that people could use and stop complaining. I'd be curious to know how many people here really are running Windows XP on their home machines, or are just Windows-critics in disguise...

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Re: Are you insane?

And we can look forward to releases every six months, with major annoying changes far more frequent than the long periods of Windows, and a much shorter period of support forcing us to upgrade. If we're lucky, the new version won't black screen on boot, and we won't have to spend ages editing graphics card config files to get it working again.

(I use and like Ubuntu, but I find it odd that the criticisms to Windows here apply far more to distributions like Ubuntu.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are you insane?

ITT People proving they know little about computers and are mostly fanboys vomiting their drivel into the echo chamber.

Apart from a handful of exceptions of course.

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Re: Are you insane?

No, the problem here is when you point out that 7 and 8 have many improvements over XP you get automatically downvoted by Linux smart*ss as you call it, who are afraid they can no longer compare their shiny latest distros with a thirteen years old OS and have to face what new Windows releases are capable of - no matter if the Metro GUI is awful or not.

Otherwise I can't understand why you get downvoted if you simply point out (and also add sources) that of course 7 and 8 supports hardware that was not available when XP was released, and of course see improvements in their features and APIs as well - everything chages with time and I guess latest Linux kernels are far better and improved over kernels of five or ten years ago - would you run your latest hardware using a very old kernel?

But I would never think that downvoting someone telling what new features the latest kernel have is "cool" because I need to feel superior. Is juvenile and rude showing someone else pure ignorance and prejudices? Or is juvenile and rude being full of ignorance and prejudices?

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Re: Are you insane?

"Rubbish, the first 10 years of effort would be retrofitting some kind of skinning, then the community would start work on four hundred Notepad replacements..."

The Windows fanboy community probably has a head start on it. I'm sure there are _way_ more than four hundred Notepad replacements, and skinning already was a feature of Windows XP.

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Re: Are you insane?

By all accounts XP was a rats' nest of bodged code. In particular, concepts of layered software were repeatedly broken in order to get a quick "solution".

That's why after about three years the developers came back to Gates to say, "sorry, old chap, we can't keep this software upright and pile ever more goodies onto it". MS has had to redevelop cleanly layered software to get to Vista and Windows 7.

So if XP were open sourced it would require an even bigger rewrite than the transition from Netscape to Firefox, another notorious example.

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Happy

Re: Are you insane?

I'm not insane but I was not really serious and am slightly amused that my comment has achieved so many "thumbs-up"s and generated such a discussion.

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Re: Are you insane?

I'm not going to vote either way, but think the "synchronization" list filled with functions that deal within the same process. As such they better not actually switch to kernel mode to do their magic and thus can be implemented by anyone else without additional win API support. I prefer to use the C++ language features (where available, and newer versions really add a lot of useful stuff in that regard) than bolting myself onto the win API very firmly. Of course MS's stdlib may or may not use the win API calls under the hood. Or the win API functions use their stdlib under the hood, who knows.

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Facepalm

For a moment I thought it was definitely going to be the source for XP, and Microsoft were hoping, in releasing it, that the wide world would realise that there was no longer any hope for XP, nor any future, and that now really, really, and truly is the time to move on to absolutely anything else posthaste. IOW, releasing the XP source is the most noble thing MS could do.

Another missed opportunity.

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Re: Are you insane?

"If you don't want the extra crap, go get NT 3.5"

Before Win2k you had to restart WinNT if you plugged in a network cable in order to start up the networking subsystems. And the common Type 2 printer drivers would crash the whole OS. Do you really suggest we should go back to that sort of crap??

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Re: Are you insane?

Historically MS made source code available under restricted terms. There have been documented leaks in the past. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3485545.stm]

I think its fair to assume that copies have made their way into some restricted "blackhat" groups (any government agency that *really* wants a copy for example!)

The only difference here is that its a freely available release, but as I say above - the people you'd be worried about having this will already have done so.

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Re: Are you insane?

Yes, that would be my open-source wet dream. To me, XP was the fiat 500 of the OS world. It might break down occasionally, but it was nice to use. (Please don't tell me to use Linux)

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Anonymous Coward

"Someday when your lookin' back on your life this is gonna be one of those nights"

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As far as text-mode word processors went, WordStar was better. Just saying!

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Anonymous Coward

WordPerfect? Or if you really better than Word (regardless of o/s), View?

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Wordwise Plus

Wordwise Plus on the BBC. WordStar under MS-DOS. Both used a similar principle, with commands to control printing embedded right in the text. Wordwise on the BBC even used a 40-column editing mode with automatic reformatting for printing; true abstraction of presentation from content.

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Re: Wordwise Plus

Arnor's ProText

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Anybody else ever used brown-bag word processor?

I got the disk for HFL 4,- (less than 2 euro) and my wife wrote her MSc thesis on it. Simple, but it worked. I was more of a Wordstar user, as my documents (text data files from our image processing system) exceeded 64kB frequently. The column-mode editing in Wordstar was ideal for certain tricky manipulations with columns of data. I did like the first Word for Windows editions, but have switched to LaTeX since. I only ever use Word or Open/LibreOffice if I get documents from our management.

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re: WordPerfect? Or if you really better than Word (regardless of o/s), View?

How much would you give to be able to run an enterprise's productivity software on a single server?

Framework III anyone?

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Coat

Pen and paper - word processing for blondes

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Yes but Z80 was better than 6502, 68k better than x86, Betamax superior to VHS, Apple System 6 & 7 better than DOS, Windows 3 & 95 but Gates' marketing and tactics were waaay better than everyone else's.

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Z80 was better than 6502

Hey, them's fightin' words, pal...

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Yes but Z80 was better than 6502

Was it? Not much evidence for that...

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Re: Wordwise Plus

Not that it's entirely relevant to this article, but I read somewhere that Wordwise was the first WP ever to have a scripting/macro language built in.

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Borland Sprint

Emacs without the pain = the best text editor I have ever used, coupled with a formatting program that enabled you to say 'make this 13.9 pts high' (so it fits on the page) and 'include this bit of PostScript' (for the images).

You could also pull out the power plug on your PC with it running, and when you restarted, you'd have lost no more than ten seconds of work.

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Correction

"Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12KB of memory"

No, the 12KB of memory only held the "resident in memory" portion of the OS. Larger commands, which were also part of the Operating System, were loaded from storage (floppy, later HD) as needed, and then "forgotten" once done with.

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