Microshare Basic

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Description

Microsharebasic.gif

Initially a version of Business Basic developed for MS-DOS in the mid 1980's that behaved in many ways more like a small minicomputer system than a traditional Basic development system and indeed was sold as a low cost alternative to a minicomputer system.

Microshare Basic had rudimentary multitasking and multi-user OS layer called MBOS that sat on top of DOS, the system allowed the user to run Microshare Basic and native applications concurrently, but in addition allowed up to 18 users could connect to the Microshare Basic system using serial terminals, however due to the single tasking orientation of DOS, the terminal users could not access DOS programs directly, but could access files. The system had an interesting way to get some use out of DOS software for the terminal user, the Microshare Basic terminal used "Extended Console Commands", simply Business Basic commands could be replaced by external programs either written in MB or standard DOS text mode programs, while the terminal user could not execute the DOS program directly they could start a DOS program and if the program put out a text file, then that could be imported seamlessly into the Microshare Basic terminal console without the user realising that it was not a MB program.

The company used this technique to replace some classic Business Basic commands and functions, for instance the "Edit" command was replaced with a proper text editor written in Microshare Basic, ECC's also allowed you to develop similar features and thus extend your programs with software written in other languages to a degree. In addition to that the language had some minor propriety additions to the Business Basic language and the company provided porting utilities for no less than 88 other variants of Business Basic.

In 1989 the company released an add on to system that supported Novell Netware and was called Advanced Network Functions, this allowed Microshare Basic terminal users to access text files anywhere on a network and effectively extending the ECC to other systems, in addition the Netware server could work as an additional virtual terminal and thus allowing each MB system to serve 19 concurrent users. In 1990 the company started to offer standardised accounting packages from third parties as add-on packages for those not inclined to write their own.

In the early 90's the application was re-written in C and ported to Unix systems as a straight Business Basic development system and in those cases the operating system was made to handle the multi-user aspect of the MSB system and extra users connected to the Microshare Basic system over a network rather than as terminal users, that version was ported back to DOS a couple of years later using Watcom C and a Tenberry DOS extender. In the latter half of the decade it was ported to 32 bit windows and gained a proper GUI. After the UNIX release the original release of the system was referred to as MSB/dos.

The company released a version of MSB/dos as MSB/vdm that explicitly supported running the system as a background task in Microsoft Windows, OS/2, DESQview and later Windows NT, this version was limited to 8 concurrent users via a serial port board and did not support running as a foreground task. The Windows version was crippled in that when MSB users were logged in the MSB/vdm task received a very high priority and left Windows unusable for other tasks, in addition to Windows instability issues, but OS/2 and DESQview proved to be quite popular alternatives to running a bare MSB/dos version.

Versions

  • An object oriented version of Microshare 7 was announced in 1998 but never delivered.
  • Last known version: Microshare 6 - 1998
  • Version 3.2 released in the summer of 1988, required a 286 or better computer.

License and availability

  • Commercial - Discontinued - original retail price in 1989 was 895 USD regardless of how many users there were, by the mid 90's the company had started licensing on a per user basis with the first license costing 299 USD, and each additional user 250 USD.
  • With the MS Windows version the company changed the licensing system to a per user basis, this was oddly implemented and it could be more expensive to upgrade a Microshare Basic installation than buy a new one.

Links

Authors and publisher