Microsoft Small Basic

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Microsoft Small Basic
File:Small Basic.png
Small Basic running on Windows Vista
Original author(s) Microsoft DevLabs
Developer(s) Microsoft DevLabs
Initial release 2008
Stable release Microsoft Small Basic v0.7 / October 2009
Written in Microsoft .Net 3.5
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Platform Microsoft Windows
Type Integrated development environment
Website Small Basic

Microsoft Small Basic is a simplified variant of the BASIC programming language introduced by Microsoft in October 2008. With a bare minimum of concepts, Microsoft touts this as an easy programming language for beginners to grasp. The language itself has only 15 keywords[1], and the environment is beginner friendly with a straight-forward interface.

Microsoft Small Basic was designed by Microsoft DevLabs and released as a Technology Preview[2] in October 2008. Its intended audience is anyone looking to begin programming, including children and beginner adults as well.



The actual language is a modified version of Microsoft's QBasic language, but ported over to the .Net Framework. The traditional 'Hello World' can be written as:

TextWindow.WriteLine("Hello World")

The language itself is Turing complete and supports concepts like conditional branching and loops. Variables are typeless and dynamic, and there are no scoping rules. The language supports subroutines and the runtime uses them for event handling purposes.

Conditional Branching

TextWindow.Write("Enter the temperature today (in F): ")
temp = TextWindow.ReadNumber()
If temp > 100 Then
  TextWindow.WriteLine("It is pretty hot.")
ElseIf temp > 70 Then
  TextWindow.WriteLine("It is pretty nice.")
ElseIf temp > 50 Then
  TextWindow.WriteLine("Don't forget your coat.")
  TextWindow.WriteLine("Stay home.")


TextWindow.WriteLine("Multiplication Tables")
table = 4
For i = 1 to 10
  TextWindow.WriteLine(i + " x " + table + " = " + table * i)


The software ships with a builtin set of libraries which are quite modern and intended to grasp the learners' interest.

For example to change the desktop wallpaper to a variety of 10 mountain photos, the students would make use of a prebuilt "GetRandomPicture" method for Flickr so the code becomes simply:[3]

For i = 1 To 10 
  pic = Flickr.GetRandomPicture("mountains") 


Microsoft Small Basic ships with a Turtle graphics library that borrows the idea from Logo. For example, you can make the turtle draw a square by simply saying:

For i = 1 to 4


The first trials were successfully done with several middle school children, most of them children of workers at Microsoft. Small Basic was also successfully tested using a hands-on lab approach to a group of 25 high school girls.[4]


  1. Microsoft Small Basic Home Page
  2. About DevLabs
  3. Microsoft corporation 2009 Getting Started Guide for Small Basic, p 58
  4. The Basics of Small Basic

External links


fr:Microsoft Small Basic pl:Microsoft Small Basic pt:Microsoft Small Basic ru:Microsoft Small Basic

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