Microsoft just released open-Source GW-BASIC Interpreter on GitHub


After admitting it was wrong about Open Source, Microsoft goes full throttle on open-sourcing

Just last week Microsoft admitted that it had been on the wrong side of the Linux and Open-source history. Microsoft President Brad Smith admitted the Redmond based tech giant had been wrong about calling Linux and open source a crap and cancer.

Now, Microsoft has gone full throttle to open up its own closed systems. In that direction, Microsoft yesterday released the open-source version of GW-BASIC on GitHub. Remember folks Microsoft had released the first version of GW-BASIC for the IBM PC on February 10th, 1983 and it took them full 37 years to go open-source with GW-Basic.

For the uninitiated, GW-BASIC a variation of the BASIC programming language developed by Microsoft. It is similar to IBM’s BASICA language and was developed by Microsoft as a self-contained executable programming language. Unlike other BASIC derived languages, it doesn’t require the ROM BASIC.

Microsoft said that it had received numerous requests to open source GW-BASIC after re-open-sourcing MS-DOS 1.25 & 2.0 on GitHub back in 2018. In a blog post Microsoft says that open-sourcing GW-BASIC will help Microsoft develop it faster.

These sources, as clearly stated in the repo’s readme, are the 8088 assembly language sources from 10th Feb 1983, and are being open-sourced for historical reference and educational purposes. This means we will not be accepting PRs that modify the source in any way.


Like Microsoft’s MS-DOS, the source code of GW-BASIC was written in assembly language. Hence, there is no source code in C for GW-BASIC. Assembly programming language was the language of choice for Microsoft when most other languages were pretty expensive to work with. Remember, in those days there were very few advanced programmers working. Also the computers at that time needed a different setup because of their builds. You can get an idea of why it was so when you look at this PC on which Bill Gates and Paul Allen released an implementation of Microsoft’s first product — a BASIC interpreter.

Microsoft just released open-Source GW-BASIC Interpreter on GitHub

The Altair 8800 was designed and released in 1974 by MITS and based on the Intel 8080 CPU. The Altair is widely recognized as the first commercially successful personal computer and it had at that time sparked the microcomputers or PCs revolution.

You can visit the GW-BASIC GitHub page here to view, edit and use the software.


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