back to article Microsoft's MS-DOS is 30 today

MS-DOS is 30 years old today. Well, kind of. On 27 July 1981, Microsoft gave the name MS-DOS to the disk operating system it acquired on that day from Seattle Computer Products (SCP), a hardware company owned and run by a fellow called Rod Brock. SCP developed what it at various times called QDOS and 86-DOS to run on a CPU …

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  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    0

    30+ and still not dead yet

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    All growed up

    And now it's in version 7, with a nice little graphical bit tacked on the front.

    "The Space Shuttle of operating systems"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    History

    "So on 27 July, 1981, the operating system became Microsoft's property,"

    ...

    So on 28 July, 1982, Microsoft made their first changes to the OS.

    On 29 July Microsoft released their first version.

    30th July the first security hole was found in Microsofts changes.

    31st July the first virus appeared.

    Microsoft patched it in version 2.

    <note>The above is not real</note>

  4. Steve the Cynic
    FAIL

    Pedantry again...

    The last stand-alone version of MS-DOS was 6.22, not 5.0. I know this because I upgraded my 5.0 system to 6.22.

  5. stucs201
    Pint

    Happy Birthday DOS

    Might have to hunt out a boot disk and stick it in the floppy drive for old times sake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      a nice little graphical bit tacked...

      a tacky little graphical bit ......

      There fixed that fro you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      err

      Is this an attempt to be funny, or are you just completely inaccurate?

      I'm sure you knew WinNT wasn't based on MS-DOS, right? Windows 98 was the last version based off it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Correcting a correction

        Surely you mean Windows Millennium Edition -- WinMe -- was the last version based off it?

        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          Coat

          This is not a title

          Yep, that just about sums it up.

          Windows CE-ME-NT http://www.the-jokes.com/funny-picture-cartoon-138.html

          Microsoft breaks Volkswagen's record: Volkswagen only made 22 million bugs!

          Keyboard not detected, press f1 to continue.

          Ther box said "needs Windows 98 or better to run", so I installed Linux.

        2. Ragarath

          Shhhhhh....

          We all want to forget that existed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Keyboard not detected...

            is a message by the BIOS, not the OS, I thought?

            /Killjoy

          2. oddie

            Keyboard not detected, press f1 to continue...

            Is that really such a bad error message? basically what it's saying is that the keyboard is not plugged in, please plug it in and then press F1?

            (I agree that it could probably be a bit more verbose :)

            1. Martin Huizing
              Facepalm

              Yeah, right!

              I believe those pesky ps2 connectors wouldn't allow your keyboard to work after the F1 message appeared. You had to manually reset the PC in order for the keyboard to be operational.

              And the mouse and keyboard connector were the same. I used to work in a helpdesk and the first question I asked customers, when their keyboard and mouse didn't work, was if they recently moved their computer to another location. Some people freaked out and thought I was psychic!

        3. sisk Silver badge

          WinME?

          That never existed. It was just a bad dream that we've all spent the last 10 years trying to forget. I had almost succeeded to....

    3. Velv Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Floppy Disk

      There was a time when you age a computer geek by asking them to format a floppy disk.

      There was the knowledgeable generation who opened a command prompt and typed "format a:"

      The there were those newbies who would open explorer, right click on the floppy drive and selected "Format" from the menu.

      Now they look at you blankly and say "What's a floppy disk?"

      Paris? Because I'm getting old :(

      1. Andy Miller

        format <return>

        Oh the joy of format; defaulting to the current drive. The screams as someone forgot the a: and formatted c:

        Happy days.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Floppy Disk?

        > There was a time when you age a computer geek by asking them to format a floppy disk.

        Floppy disks are for newbies. Try punched tape and cards.

        1. Ru
          Facepalm

          Re: Floppy Disk?

          I must confess how much of a noob I am. I have absolutely no idea how one might format a punch card.

          1. Hombre sin nombre

            Formatting a stack of punch cards

            Not all that complicated, just need some water, a blender, a press (rolling pin in a pinch) and a cutting die. Rather time intensive though.

          2. Gavin King
            Coat

            Re: Formatting a punch card

            I suppose that it would involve another piece of card, and a bit of glue.

            Or, considering the age of these things, incinerate the old one and replace it.

            Reusable media, you say? Save the trees? Don't know what you're talking about.

            1. JohnG Silver badge

              Re: Formatting a punch card

              "I suppose that it would involve another piece of card, and a bit of glue."

              Punch cards tended to jam if you stuck anything on them. However, splicing paper tape was quite common. I can remember using a device which we called a "micro VAX" - this thing held two ends of paper tape in place while you spliced them together. It came with a little tool with which to manually punch through holes in fresh tape covering a spliced joint.

      3. Steve the Cynic

        What's a floppy disk? Bah.

        I recently built a new PC at home. Not top-performing, but heaps and heaps faster than my five-year-old back-of-the-curve disaster area that it is replacing. Anyway, it is good that shiny-biscuit writers are available on SATA, because the motherboard has neither P-ATA nor floppy drive connectors...

      4. Stevie Silver badge

        Bah!

        Who cares what you did on a toy computer? Real geeks were coaxing 1900s to perform 15 years after their useful service life had expired with a PLAN opcode card, a roll of paper tape and the light of Jesus in their eyes.

        Real discs aren't given letters and don't "flop". They have octal numbers, eleven platters and are a foot across.

        Whippersnappers!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Angel

      @Steve the Cynic

      I think what they meant by stand-alone version was that you could buy it off-the-shelf without the requirement of having a DOS (any DOS) present on the hardware. MS-DOS 5.0 shipped as upgrade from MS-DOS 3.3 and as a fresh install, but I am in agreement with you that MS-DOS 6.0 and later 6.2 did ship as both standalone and upgrade version.

      Microsoft offered me MS-DOS 6.2 for free, and then 6.22 too because of the Stac lawsuit that made DoubleSpace in MS-DOS 6.0 illegal... Oh well. :-)

      1. NogginTheNog
        Happy

        DOS 6.22

        ...which can still be downloaded from TechNet. So can Windows/WfW 3.11 for those who like to run up VMs of old operating systems now and then... ;-)

    5. Chris Parsons

      Why do I need a title to reply to a post?

      Dos 6.22 is still available on Technet!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, memories

    So many other platforms.. Double-DOS, so you could keep a BBS going and still use the computer for something else, QEMM, Novell's attempt at DOS before the show went TCP/IP (I believe that settled only down with Worries for Workgroups).

    And yet, 30 years later they STILL cannot bring out an OS that you can just connect to the Internet without installing 3rd party products. I don't know of any other supplier that can get away with that and still be called "business ready". It's like continuing to sell cars without brakes that keeps up a whole industry in anchors and parachutes.

  7. Stephen Channell
    Thumb Up

    IBM DOS

    The OS for the new IBM PC was always “PC DOS” because “DOS” or “IBM DOS” mnemonic was already taken by DOS later renamed DOS/VSE and lives today as z/VSE.

    Internally IBM had an emulator that hosted PC-DOS on VM/CMS for program development

  8. Thomas 4
    Pint

    That really brings back memories

    For the longest time as a child, I used to view computers as little more than glorified games machines. Oh, I'd sometimes type cheat programs in BASIC on my Amstrad but that's about as far as it got.

    When my dad got his first PC, the pattern continued, with myself just playing a couple of games on it. Then one day I happened upon a tutorial for this weird thing called MS-DOS. It was confusing and terrifying but by the same token, oddly intruiging as well. I began poking around in different directories, learning how to move, copy and delete files using the command prompt. I even progressed to the arcane mysteries of creating custom config.sys and autoexec.bat files.

    I was never blown away by Windows 3.x and only really started using it with the release of Windows 95. But I'll always be grateful to MS-DOS and that tutorial for showing me that there's more to computers than gaming.

    1. mark 63 Silver badge

      3rd partys

      "And yet, 30 years later they STILL cannot bring out an OS that you can just connect to the Internet without installing 3rd party products."

      who ? microsoft? my windows connects to the internet . you must be doing it wrong

      or do you mean safely?

      if so then , well i'm glad they're not also doing the AV.

      When you buy a pc from pc world it comes with Norton or whatever installed . its ready.

      Just as when you buy a car it comes with a pioneer stereo or brembo brakes already installed.

      dosent windows 7 got some sandboxing or something? or did i imagine that?

      1. jolly
        Happy

        @3rd partys

        "When you buy a pc from pc world it comes with Norton or whatever installed . its ready."

        Yeh - ready to be uninstalled.

      2. Badvok

        Windows Security Essentials

        I thought MS were doing AV now - not that I know whether it is any good or not - I've never tried it.

        1. JohnG Silver badge

          Microsoft Security Essentials

          "I thought MS were doing AV now - not that I know whether it is any good or not - I've never tried it."

          Yes, free and actually quite good. It is not particularly "heavy" and MS seem to keep it quite up to date.

      3. Ru
        Facepalm

        Re: or do you mean safely?

        Are you all still plugging modems directly into your PC?

        It has been quite a few years since I worried about connecting a fresh windows installation to the interwebs, because I've been happily using firewalls and NAT routers.

        Since XP got a firewall by default (was that SP2?) I haven't worried about that particular issue at all. It isn't 2005 any more, guys.

      4. JW 1
        FAIL

        Network drivers is I think what he means

        At least that's what I mean. Countless times I've had to install Windows and get cd or usb and download the nic driver on it. It's ridiculous since I've been booting up Linux for 10 years and connecting right to a network. Only today, with corporate wireless was Windows 7 ready to connect to the internet.

    2. Jolyon

      Eh?

      What third party products would one have to install to connect, say, Windows 2000 to the internet?

    3. Sooty

      ironically

      I started with windows 95, and MS-DOS was what you used if you wanted gaming... I learned an incredible amount from poking around in DOS trying to get a game working properly. The joys of owning a 'soundblaster compatible' card instead of the real thing!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And I...

        started with Unix, and wrote off my first DOS PC as not doing anything at all.

      2. Chad H.
        Thumb Up

        @ Sooty

        Agreed. The kids today just can't appreciate the pleasure in finding the exact combination of device drivers being loaded (and loaded into UMB) that will suddenly make a game work...

        Privateer was a pain in the neck - for some reason to get the thing to work I'd have to DriveSpace my C:, install the game on the rump bit that isn't compresseed, and then in an optional boot mode choose not to load drivespace - if I didn't drivespace the damn drive it wouldn't work for reasons I could never figure out.

      3. madhatt3r
        Devil

        soundcards like these

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunder_Board

        what a piece of crap, sold it to some friend, lost the friend

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. Jim 59

    vmware

    Dos 6.0 runs fine under vmware. Ditto Windows 3.1

  11. OpenSauce
    Thumb Up

    DOS hackers can still play...

    thanks to the FreeDOS project.

    http://www.freedos.org/

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DOS about

    6.22 was out around the time of Win3.1 / WFW 3.11.

    Remember creating boot disks to get the autoexec.bat/config.sys to fire everything into "high memory"/himem to get as much base memory free to play some pernickity games.

    Trying unsuccessfully to unify DOS and the GUI with Win95 (DOS 7.x), even going as far as removing the "Restart the computer in MSDOS mode" option in WinME.

    It didn't really work until XP (from the NT line).

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Linux

    DRDos 5

    I won 10 copies of DR DOS 5 at a trade show. It had much better extended/expanded memory management and more powerful Batch file commands (IF/THEN) than the current MSDOS.

    Using MSDOS without Norton Commander was a PITA.

    I have managed never to pay for a MS product except one copy of XP,. Sorry Bill, I won't be buying any more.

  15. Adrian Esdaile
    Meh

    only 30?

    I'm older than MS-DOS.

    bloody hell thats depressing.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Dos is older than me!

      I hadn't actually realised how long Dos had been out for before I was small and blowing up my dads first IBM pc (Ops :O).

      I don't feel quite so old now :)

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Meh

        "...and blowing up my dads first IBM pc "

        Glad to see I wasn't the only one to do that. (It was an accident, honest.)

        Sadly, though, I am older than DOS....I must agree with Adrian. That's just depressing. Don't anyone tell my wife. She'll never let me hear the end of it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    MS-DOS 5.0 last stand-alone DOS?

    You sure about that? I distinctly recall in 1994 having the option of being MS-DOS 6.0 in Upgrade or standalone form. Because my PC came with MS-DOS 5.0, I opted for the upgrade version, although the upgrade pretty much was like the stand-alone version anyway, because instructions on how to install MS-DOS 6.0 Upgrade on a clean system were included.

    Perhaps it was a specific edition for some markets, but the standalone option definitely existed.

  17. rurwin
    Linux

    MS-DOS certainly did not die with version 5.0 or with the last retail sale of 6.22

    Microsoft ended OEM licensing of MS-DOS on December 31st 2005. No commercial distribution of MS-DOS was permitted after that date. Existing systems could be serviced but not modified. The XP components could only be used with XP. Since it was so simple, MS-DOS was actually quite useful for embedded systems... just so long as users never needed to look at it.

    Any availability through TechNet will be limited to test purposes.

    Happy birthday MS-DOS, good riddance.

    1. NogginTheNog
      Coat

      Test purposes

      Well of course: testing my memory of how the hell do you get a TCP/IP stack running on the damn things, and then what to do with it without a browser, mainly... :-D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        TCP/IP on DOS?

        Easily done when using the right drivers. Its even covered by Microsoft themselves, check out this link:

        http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb726979.aspx

        "18 steps to a TCP/IP bootdisk". I've used this setup a couple of times in the past when I had to quickly backup a run amok PC and decided to use Ghost to make a full disk image before I started messing with it. Clean, small and pretty fast and reliable too.

        Of course; I prefer Windows 7 (and to some extend Vista) these days. The separate boot partition which also contains some fail save utilities is IMO a very big step forward in comparison to XP. A little late, but welcome nevertheless.

  18. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    PIP!!!

    If you're wondering why CP/M-86 didn't make it, take note of the fact that the first file in the screenshot is PIP.CMD.

    On the original CP/M, nearly every command was PIP (short for Peripheral Interchange Program, I believe). For some reason Gary Kildall never seemed to grasp that users might like to use words like "copy". I seem to recall that the arguments were in geeky order, too, so "copy a:foo.bar b:" was "pip b:=a:foo.bar".

    There was a similar universal PIP command on the DEC operating system RSTS/E - a grown-up o/s that should have been capable of better.

  19. rurwin

    Re: PIP

    Regarding PIP, RSTS was probably where CP/M got the idea from.

    RSTS used a strange method of storing filenames on the disk: it converted the characters to base-50 and then stored three characters in each 16-bit word. I can't remember now if it was six characters in total or six characters plus a three character extension, but that is where CP/M, and hence MS-DOS, got the concept of defining the type of the file with a a three-character suffix separated by a dot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      RSTS/E - My first program

      While at university, during those surreal 70s;

      I wrote my first program on PDP 11/70 running RSTS/E in BASIC, Then things went backwards a bit punching cards for some ICL OS called GEORGE/3 IIRC. We had an 11/780 before I graduated, but I had moved on to other more intellectual pursuits by then.

      PIP was strange, but generally CPM was always way a way better OS than MS-DOS (OK, directories weren't, but ...). CCPM was really very good, allowing IIRC 4 concurrent sessions for a user. CCPM was released for the DEC Rainbow and DEC sold a zillion (or at least many thousands) to florists, and for a decade afterwards, I would see Rainbows happily running CCPM and operating florist's (and some self-store outfit too) businesses. GEM cam on top of it which again was really quite slick for it's time.

      It always saddened me that the world had MS-DOS foisted upon it, because, as always, there were better alternatives and by the market choosing badly, progress was impeded.

      I though we were on the right track with WinNT which was basically a VMS clone. But MS crippled it with backwards compatibility to Win32S and bolted a hideous windowing system on top of it, brain dead disk nomenclature etc. etc. H

      I still have my copy of DR-DOS 7 on the shelf. I don't have anything to run it on, or any programs to run on it, but one day before I croak, I may boot it on a VM to show my heirs what the PC world was like "when I were a lad".

      I could go on, but I think I will just drink beer instead.

      Dr. Dweeb

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So nothing much has changed then?

        "...there were better alternatives and by the market choosing badly, progress was impeded"

        Sounds like the story of the IT industry's life. DOS over the various decent OSes of the time, Windows over *nix, iPods over other players with the same capabilities and half the price tag....It shows no signs of changing any time soon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Better doesn't mean better

          We geeks differ from the rest of the planet on what better means. Better for us means bash over CMD.EXE, CLI over GUI, betamax over VHS etc etc. Better for the other six billion means easier to use, slicker, simpler to carry.

          The best thing to arrive on my PC in the last ten years has been that I can now run a UNIX environment on the same machine my family run their games on. I get all tense and crotchety on a new computer until I've installed it. Does that make me a sad loser? Damn.

    2. John Styles

      That's 50 as in 40

      6 characters + a 3 character suffix. It was called 'Radix 50' but that's 50 in octal i.e. 40.

      I always thought CP/M showed its RSTS heritage pretty strongly too.

      Don't forget there was CP/M 68K as well, which allowed 1 meg of memory to be addressed, no 640K limit there :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Rainbow MS-Dos

        The DEC Rainbow version of MS-DOS allowed 896K of directly addressable (real in dos terms) memory as well. The 640K thing was an IBM invetion IIRC

        Dweeb

        1. IvyKing

          MS-DOS on SCP hardware

          DOS on Seattle Computer Products could address over 900K of memory. Tim Paterson mentioned that Microsoft kept a couple of SCP machines around for linking the linker. Since SCP machines were normally used with terminals, there was no need to set aside memory for the display.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          Yes that was an IBM thing

          If I recall correctly, the 8086/8088 chips had an output pin for memory/periphal device mapping so memory and peripheral devices could share the same address space. IBM chose not to use this and went to a purely memory mapped peripheral architecture, putting the peripherals in the address space between 640K and 896K.

          My first computer was a Victor 9000 which came out about 6 months before the IBM PC and blew away the PC on spec's. It could directly address 896K memory. Whereas the PC first had 640x480 pixel text only display, the Victor 9000 had an 800x600 pixel graphic display with 8 shades of green. The IBM PC had 360K single speed floppy drives; the Victor 9000 had variable speed drives that allowed it to pack 1.2Meg on a standard 360K floppy. The Victor was designed from the ground up to be a CAD machine and even had a built-in light-pen interface.

          The Victor was supported by Microsoft all the way up to MS-Dos 2.52 (if memory serve me right), though PC programs could not run on the Victor without an emulator.

          My Victor came with 128K memory which I eventually upgraded to 896K by purchasing a bunch of the indivual memory dip packages and plugging them into the motherboard. (How many are old enough to remember doing memory upgrades that way?)

          Unfortunately Victor was a relatively small calculator company in Europe while IBM was, well, Big Blue, so the PC beat out the Victor and other technically superior offerings, much like has happened with a host of other technologies through the years.

          http://www.computermuseumgroningen.nl/victor/victor.html

          1. Steve the Cynic
            FAIL

            Pedantry again...

            Actually, IBM *did* use the I/O port space. Just where in memory do you think that, for example, the UARTs (serial ports to you, grasshopper), the parallel port(s), the floppy controller, the PIC, etc. live? Answer: they don't live in the memory space. They live in the I/O port space.

            Even graphics adapters have fingers in the I/O space. It is only the memory window that lives in the memory space, because it is too big (ever since the EGA days, mind) to fit in the I/O space (which is only 64KBytes in total, and the original IBM 5150 only connected the bottom ten bits of the I/O address to the slot connector so ports repeated every 1024 addresses...). The main control interface to the chips lives in I/O space. In fact, the EGA managed to fit its entire 256Kbyte memory into a 64KByte window by fitting 32 bits into every byte of that window.

  20. Mr Anonymous
    Happy

    Still life for DOS

    Used FreeDOS last week to burn a new BIOS and IT firmware to an LSI SAS2 controller.

  21. Anonymous Bosch

    MS-DOS 2017

    There are not many who remember

    They say a handful still survive

    To tell the world about

    The day that MS-DOS went out

    And keep the CLI alive

    Apologies to Billy Joel

  22. JB
    Happy

    Useful stuff

    Well remember using DOS a great deal in the late 80s/early 90s. Even when running Windows you found yourself going into the command line to do stuff like copying and deleting - so much quicker than all that drag'n'drop business.

    Just recently I rediscovered the command line on my Mac - I had a ton of files that needed to be renamed, so rather than going into Finder, i fired up the Terminal and started typing. All done in seconds! Funnily enough, I had tried to delete a file, forgetting it was Unix based, I typed DEL rather than RM. The old DOS never dies!

    I think all wannabe computer students should be forced to use a command line.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Absolutely

      Even in today's GUI-centric world the old truism remains. IT professionals who refuse to use the command line won't be IT professionals in five years. There's just no faster way to get things done.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Past tense not appropriate

      try sorting out a network problem without a "dos box" (or whatever MS calls it for past decade or so) to run ping and ipconfig

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Linux

        Command line...

        ...and why can't I slap a command line below the start button, docked in CAD fashion still baffles me. Now those guys I respect, they kept that feature in every version of a major software company...

        And why can't I tell a program to run and release the prompt and tell me when it's done... oops... wrong OS.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are going to copy, copy the good stuff

    I wish that Seattle Computer Products had copied MP/M rather than CP/M. The biggest issue with MP/M was there was no standard for the needed bank-switching support under the 8080/Z80. However, the 8088/8086 had that built in (the segment registers), so they could have had multitasking from the beginning. Imagine: no Terminate-and-Stay-Resident, no Multiplex Interrupt hacks, multitasking from the beginning. What a wonderful world it would have been.

  24. Ilgaz

    don't party, its filesystem is very alive

    MS-DOS filesystem, FAT12 (for diskettes) evolved without journaling and unless you use an iPhone/iPad, that is the filesystem you trust your gigabytes of personal files to.

    For example, my Nokia E71 8GB SD card. Which is plugged and there is always a chance of disasterous data loss.

    Or... Check impossible to understand Windows 7 64bit filenames from OS install. Why are they 8.3? Ask MS.

  25. whbjr
    Meh

    The honest ones are not "highly competitive"

    (Announcing features before they're ready for release is) "now a common tactic employed by highly competitive tech companies."

    Meaning, MS and Apple? Anybody else, really?

  26. IvyKing
    Alert

    Correction on Libel suit

    Tim Paterson "rebuke" by the judge was not due to lack of a case, it doesn't take much digging to demonstrate that QDOS had seriously different internals than CP/M, e.g. INT 21H calls for accessing the API, FAT versus bitmap for managing disks, COPY as a built-in command.com function versus the external PIP, etc.

    The rebuke was that Tim Paterson was supposedly a "public" person and thus had to meet a higher standard for libel than a private person.

  27. kirubz
    Thumb Up

    Happy Birthday MS DOS

    30 Yes still alive... Great... :)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Would that it had never been born.

    A horrible, horrible thing --- that gave rise to something far, far worse that is now a seemingly unassailable monster.

    the article clearly reveals how, even at the start, Microsoft's expertise was in business negotiation and trickery, and not in technology.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      What if. . .

      . . .Bill's mom hadn't been on the national United Way board with the then IBM chairman?

      . . .JFK hadn't been killed?

      . . .the ancient Greeks had valued collaboration over competition?

      Where's the button to [Esc] this bizarre reality?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Ultimate backwards compatibility

    Granted; the title doesn't hold truth every time. After all; when Vista and Windows 7 came onto the market the first problem was that many hardware devices were no longer supported. Still; was that really MS' fault or that of the manufacturer which didn't release a new driver? IMO its a combination of both, but alas....

    I lived the DOS days, I also used ramdrives (boot from floppy, then create a ramdrive, copy command.com and set comspec to your ramdrive. Result? You could remove the floppy!), norton commander, windows 1.0 and so on.

    I strongly disagree with comments like "we best forget". Although I agree that many things have changed since then, the very essence has not: trying to get as much out of a system as possible. Whether that is DOS or Windows 7, if you're a techie then this simple fact remains.

    And what I truly respect from Microsoft in this is that Windows remains compatible with older DOS applications, even Windows 7!

    If you use the regular command prompt you can't really do much with it except change its appearance. However; if you go to \windows\system32 and then check the properties of the "command.com" file in there you can even setup properties like XMS and EMS. Some old DOS programs are very picky about those settings, and despite that you can still run these natively within environments like Windows 7.

    IMO you can only respect that. 30 years after date and Microsoft still makes sure that you won't have to throw away programs from that era. In that respect I think they learned a lot from Unix, which basically behaved in the same way (my main example being Solaris here).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      re: backwards compatibility...

      Most of the really old stuff is still compatible, but you can always slap in a DOSBOX, that happens to carry some Linux traits, and run anything DOS-era, including the most picky game you can find, and anything else you can find under the sun that is NOT compatible with 'hosted' DOS.

      And it works 'inside' a Linux box, or a Windows 7 box.

      (I still miss hitting Ctrl-alt-del and geting an actual reboot, instead of another menu, though.)

      Note 1: Can current machines boot in pure DOS? I mean, the latest SATA drives, on the latest BIOS interfaces, are actually capable of booting a bare metal DOS, even if you create a FAT16 2GiB partition? I don't think so.

      Note 2: A Windows 95 game called Fury3 (cube) released by MS herself doesn't even install correclty in Windows 7. It runs straight from forced prompt with severe performance degradation compared to what you could get in Windows 98. No, there is no present support declared for it.

      Note 3: The first generation of force-feedback joysticks made for Windows 95/98 (by MS again) also don't run properly in Windows 7. Yes, I installed a PCI sound card with the MIDI port just to run it, and had no luck. Yes, there are plenty USB joysticks out there, but I spent good money on that joy, and it worked perfectly. Again, no official support. No, DirectX didn't help one bit.

      Apparently, now I can slap a Xbox controller on the PC.

      Not so backwards compatible, then?

      Well, it holds true for DOS stuff, but for Win95/98 stuff...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Start as you mean to go on...

    So QDOS became MS-DOS. That's a 25% bloat in the name of the product even before MS made any functional changes.

  31. Drew 2
    Go

    Ah... the good ol' days

    Only last week I rescued a old PC by making it bootable with a USB floppy, a copy of MS-DOS 6.2 and the wonderful

    A:/> Sys c:

    Alchemy, pure alchemy. :)

  32. David Paul Morgan
    Boffin

    What a great wander down nostalgia lane!

    I recall in college that we could copy our dec-20 & dec-10 programs onto a cp/m discette. I did not realise that cp/m was a cousin of RSTS/E

    I also recall using concurrent cp/m? CCP/M on a device called an ICL Quattro - a forerunner of the DRS300 machines, that used CCP/M to drive four terminals on an 8086 machine? Must have been '85 or '86 when i started at the council. The drs300 's were pretty nifty too. Modular and expandable, we used them for running our ICL VME terminal sessions as well as our Wordstar sessions. (ctrl-KD, anyone?)

    We had some 386 machines after that with ms-dos 5 then windows 3 & 3.1

    However, us old-school boys are now dicovering the joys of managing our Active Directory, vSphere and EMC environments using PowerShell. The command line is dead - long live the command line!

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