MS-DOS Editor

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MS-DOS Editor v1.0 title screen.

MS-DOS Editor is a text editor developed by Microsoft and published as a bundled application with MS-DOS version 5.0 in June, 1991. It was included with later versions of MS-DOS and several versions of Windows.

Personal

My family's first computer came with MS-DOS 5.0, so I became pretty familiar with the MS-DOS Editor and used it to create and edit text documents, batch files, and occasionally, to view the contents of binary files, although the version I had made editing impossible.

I remember recognizing that the editor was extremely similar looking to QBASIC, but, it wasn't until years later that I discovered that it literally used QBASIC under the hood. To this day, I still associate the default white on blue color scheme with MS-DOS because of the editor and QBASIC.

Status

Through my old collection of computers, I legally own all of the versions of MS-DOS Editor.

Review

Good

  • This is one of the best user interfaces for a text editor of the 16-bit era. There is mouse support and full menus, so you don't have to memorize a bunch of esoteric key-combinations like with VI.
  • The first version has some basic customizations like custom colors and the width of tabs. Version 2 added split display, binary editing, multi-document support, and the ability to print to multiple ports.

Bad

  • File size was limited. v1.0 couldn't even open a 500 KB file. However, v2.0 increased this limit quite a bit to several megabytes. Although such a limit would be a serious constraint today, files rarely reached such sizes in the early 1990s.
  • By default, the open dialog in v1.0 only shows *.TXT files, but there were many other common text extensions of the time like *.DOC, *.BAT, *.INI, etc. Thankfully, v2.0 displays all files by default.
  • When saving in text mode, non-Microsoft end-of-line markers are converted to Microsoft end-of-line markers.

Ugly

  • It doesn't preserve non-printable characters. So, if you save a document that had binary data in it, all binary data will be permanently lost. It wasn't until v2.0 that binary data was supported.

Media

Screenshots

Versions

Version OSs Notes
1.0 MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.x NT, Windows 4 NT Built on QBASIC, the crippled version of QuickBASIC bundled with MS-DOS.
1.1 MS-DOS 6.x No new features, but updated to handle DOS help documents.
2.0.026 Windows 95, 98, ME Stand-alone EXE independent of QBASIC. Multiple document support, split view, hex view for binary files, more customization.

Download

Links

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