Microsoft C

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A C development system with an optimising compiler for 16 bit DOS, 16 bit MS Windows and OS/2, one of the first development systems to be available for OS/2. Also sold as IBM C/2.

Microsoft also sold a non-optimising version of the toolkit under the name QuickC but that only supported DOS. Interestingly enough Microsoft itself did not start to use Microsoft C for internal application development until the 90s, instead they used an in-house C compiler running on Xenix called CS that, as strange as that may seem, compiled to Pascal p-code, this was done to simplify porting between operating systems.


  • 1983: 1.0 - based on Lattice C
  • 1984: 2.03 - Last version based on Lattice C
  • 1985: 3.00 - First version developed by Microsoft (using their in-house Pascal/C development system)
  • 1986: 4.0 - included CodeView debugger
  • 1987: Microsoft C 5.0 Optimizing Compiler
DOS & OS/2
  • 1988: Version 5.1 - first version to support OS/2
  • 1990: Version 6.0 - last version with OS/2 host and target support
  • 1992: C/C++ 7.0 - only optional OS/2 host support

SCO Open Desktop Development System (until version 3.0) also includes a (Microsoft) C Compiler which can create OS/2 programs.

Known issues

As with other Microsoft tools that support both OS/2 and DOS environments you may run into problems if you try to use those tools on Microsoft Windows systems that support the running of OS/2 1.x programs (Windows NT and 2000), as the system tries to run the DOS executable as an OS/2 program and fails. Either make sure that only the DOS executables are installed or if they are already installed or you migrated the install by hand, precede every DOS command with the FORCEDOS command.

Porting aids


  • Nabajyoti Barkakati: Microsoft C Bible - 1988 - Applies to Microsoft C 5.1, but also contains some other useful info.
  • A. Hansen: Proficient C - Microsoft Press 1987, ISBN 1-55615-007-5
  • Kris Jamsa: Microsoft C: Secrets, Shortcuts, and Solutions - Microsoft Press 1989, ISBN 1-55615-203-5
  • Kris Jamsa: The Quick Reference Guide to C. Run-time Library - Microsoft Press 1989, ISBN 1-55615-227-2
  • Barkakati: The Waite Group's Essential Guide to Microsoft C - Sams 1989, ISBN 0-672-22674-X
  • Kris Jamsa: Graphics Programming with Microsoft C and Microsoft Quick C - Microsoft Press 1990, ISBN 1-55615-230-2


License and availability

  • Commercial software, discontinued