Microsoft open sources GWBASIC

Richard Cini rich.cini at
Fri May 22 09:53:44 CDT 2020

I really appreciate that MS is doing this. For me, I like seeing the progressing of the code over comparing QDOS to MSDOS 1.0 to 1.1 to 2.0. The release of WinWord 1.1 was interesting but not as much to me as DOS or even the early BASICS for the 6502/Z80 which I think used the same kind of translation tool as they may have used for GWBasic.

For me, the next big thing to see would be Windows 1.0. That would be awesome to see.

I've never really tried to recompile any of the released code. The Seattle Gazelle has a tool to rebuild MS-DOS 2.0, but it functions more like an OEM Adaptation Kit. I suppose that with enough free memory it should work. I remember reading somewhere that Microsoft used a special SCP machine with 768k of RAM to assemble and link certain programs.


On 5/22/20, 10:41 AM, "cctalk on behalf of Jim Brain via cctalk" <cctalk-bounces at on behalf of cctalk at> wrote:

    On 5/22/2020 3:34 AM, Rico Pajarola via cctalk wrote:
    > cool, but...
    > these are "translated" sources (presumably from some generic source that is
    > run through a tool that generates x86 asm). I just wish they had also
    > released the "source of the source" and the translation tool. Because that
    > was the interesting part of it.
    The page notes they tried:
    "Each of the assembly source files contains a header stating 
    |Thistranslation created 10-Feb-83byVersion4.3|
    Since the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) of the early processors 
    used in home and personal computers weren’t spectacularly different from 
    one another, Microsoft was able to generate a substantial amount of the 
    code for a port from the sources of a master implementation. (Alas, 
    sorry, we’re unable to open-source the ISA translator.)"
    I'm assuming it's a language thing, but your comments seem overly 
    dismissive.  You're essentially saying that the resulting generated ASM 
    is of no interest (the tool was the interesting part, you note) and 
    devoid of value.  The comments I am sure are verbatim from the meta 
    source, and by investigating the source, I think folks could gain key 
    insights into what the tool did.
    Yes, we can lament the inability to gain access to the meta-source, but 
    I don't think the resulting source code is uninteresting.  And, if 
    comments like these get back to MS (some folks on this list work there), 
    how will the folks within the company feel about it?  "Yeah, we worked 
    for months with Legal to cut through the red tape and get GW-BASIC 
    source online, but folks were dismissive we didn't give them everything, 
    so I'm not sure it's worth the effort to open anything else up...."
    How we appreciate what is given probably dictates if we receive anything 

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