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FreeDOS finally hits 1.0 milestone

More than a decade after Microsoft released final standalone version of MS-DOS, open-source version is here.

The FreeDOS project, an attempt to create an open-source alternative to Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system, has finally reached a major milestone.

After years of work, version 1.0 of FreeDOS is now available for download from the project team's Web site.

The operating system can be installed on a PC and used to run DOS programs. It can also be used in embedded devices such as cash registers.

The FreeDOS project began 12 years ago, after Microsoft released the last official standalone version of MS-DOS.

"FreeDOS 1.0 is a major milestone that has finally been released. By now, we have a stable and viable MS-DOS replacement," the project team said this week. Recent improvements to the package include long file name support in several applications, including a free CD-ROM driver, FAT32 file system support within the kernel and most other applications, and improved stability within the HIMEM device driver and EMM386 memory manager.

Earlier versions of FreeDOS have been available for some time and are sometimes shipped on PCs that don't come with a commercial operating system.

Microsoft recently urged system vendors not to sell so-called naked PCs, though such computers can appeal to people who want to run Linux on their new machine or IT managers who have a volume-licensing deal with Microsoft and don't want to pay for another copy of Windows.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.