Microsoft Open Sources MS-DOS!
Now, we all know that historically, Microsoft his fought Open Source for all it’s worth! They have attacked Linux, they’ve called into question Open Source practices, and they have generally fought hard against the entire Open Source movement!
They are, however, finally “getting it!” They have done more to Open Source some of their minor products in recent history; much to the amazement of those of us who have watched Microsoft over the years attack Open Source.
Now, in an amazing move for them, they have released the actual source code for MS-DOS! Granted, it is an ancient operating system on the one hand, and very few people use it these days. However, there was a time when it was the basis of all of Microsoft’s products. So, it is very interesting that they’ve done this.
Microsoft gave permission to Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum to publish the full source code for MS-DOS this week. Now, for those of us that grew up cutting their teeth on MS-DOS, this is very cool to think about. With this source code now open sourced, you could actually write your own MS-DOS-based operating system and release it with a cute name, and run your machines based on your own operating system! Now, granted, there won’t be as much these days to run on that operating system, but consider the geek cred!
Some pundits are reporting that Microsoft is actually considering licensing certain Windows operating systems at no charge, now this is not Open Source, but freeware. However, it is not like Microsoft to do this… something must be changing, perhaps they’re opening up.
Obviously, releasing any part of Windows, or any version of Windows, even as freeware, would be a big deal! Much more so, than the release of MS-DOS source code. But, it is a start, so, “Way to go Microsoft!” And, I bet you never thought you’d see me say that in print!
UPDATE: Hold the phone! It turns out, that even though Microsoft released the source code for MS-DOS, they still left it licensed under a very restrictive, “you can’t touch this,” research license! So, even while grabbing headlines for supposedly releasing their MS-DOS source code, Microsoft has once again shown their true stripes while trying to grab positive headlines! I knew it was too good to be true!