When I received the original GWBasic .bas files XP would not open or run these files/programs. I don't know why.
Because out-of-the-box, XP doesn't associate .bas files with GWBasic. Different Basic products use .bas extensions for some or all of their source files: Visual Basic uses .bas extensions for "modules", for example.
When you install a product that creates unique filename extensions, it typically directs Windows to create the appropriate associations. Do you have GWBasic installed?
When I go through the procedure you outlined I do recognize this is the correct area where I made my mistake in selecting Internet Explore. However, I need to have these downloaded programs returned to their original state and not associated with the different window's program panel options, i.e. Word, RealPlayer, etc.
For Word, create associations between .doc and .rtf files and WinWord.exe
I don't know what file extensions RealPlayer handles; these should be listed in its documentation.