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MS-DOS 1981-2002 RIP 582

Biedermann writes "This is not exactly hot news, just a quick reminder to count the last days: A table in this article tells us that MS-DOS (as well as Windows 3.x, Windows 95 and NT 3.5x) reach their "End of Life" (as defined by Microsoft) on December 31, 2002. Come on, even if you loathed them, they were good for jokes at least."
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MS-DOS 1981-2002 RIP

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  • plz read... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rastachops ( 543268 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:42PM (#4744515)
    Erm /. at least do what they ask: 'To link directly to this page, please use mmandments' *tut-tut* You never know, that page may forward the user to their slashdot proof server rather than battering the meagre normal one.
  • MS-DOS is dead... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:43PM (#4744521) Homepage
    ...but its legacy [] lives on.
  • Re:MS-Dos (Score:2, Informative)

    by diamondc ( 241058 ) <gabrielfm@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:50PM (#4744573) Homepage
    Windows NT/2000/XP do not run on top of MS-DOS. Windows 98,95, ME do though.
  • by Plug ( 14127 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:52PM (#4744598) Homepage
    Whilst we're on the subject, [] remember that old PCs are still very useful (especially for Grandma, or as a drone off a more powerful server of some sort ala XTerm/terminal servers) and although Microsoft are going to stop supporting these products (since when did anyone ever turn to Microsoft for support anyway?), they're not going to go away.

    We're still going to be asked to fix problems for Nana's computer, and we're still going to install Windows 95 on Pentium-class PCs for people who aren't quite ready for Linux on the desktop. []

    Does this mean changes in copyright restrictions on these products? I'm fairly sure that under New Zealand copyright law, you're allowed to make copies if the company doesn't make a reasonable effort to sell you the product, and if they're not supporting it I'm sure they won't be selling it any more.

    (looks at framed MS-DOS 6 box on the wall) The disks come in a "You're important to us, please register" plastic bag. How ironic.
  • Re:dos and freedows (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:52PM (#4744599) Homepage
    I want to note that in all these years no group has been able to completely replace dos.
    - doesn't even work anymore

    Gee.. maybe if you spelled the URL right!

    It's [], and they appear to be doing just fine.

  • by Whispers_in_the_dark ( 560817 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <snikrah.hcir>> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:59PM (#4744649)

    DOS wasn't that bad of an OS. That's no bullshit. It has its high points, and has been around *much* longer, and been magnitudes more popular than nearly everything else that rose to compete with it.

    Huh? I'm pretty sure UNIX with bourne shell has been around longer than DOS and (considering it and its direct descendents) are still in wide use I would venture that is also more popular overall. Here's a link to bourne shell's history. []. Here's another [].

    Unless, of course, you were only referring to psuedo-shell-like things that ran on Pee-Cee's.
  • Re:Uh oh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bswick ( 29721 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:59PM (#4744651)
    I think you mean DR-DOS [].

    Formally Digital Research's MS-DOS competitor.
  • Who needs DOS? (Score:2, Informative)

    by sladelink ( 536962 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:02PM (#4744683)
    Who needs DOS, when we have IBM's PC/DOS? :) tml
    Only $50 last I checked, get them while they're hot!
  • by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:04PM (#4744707)
    DOS wasn't that bad of an OS. That's no bullshit.

    Well, DOS was hardly an OS in the first place.

    Most of the stuff that is part of OSes simply do not exist in DOS: sound drivers, GUI, system services, etc.

    Is there really anything DOS could do, except launch programs?

  • by Glass of Water ( 537481 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:10PM (#4744748) Journal
    That's a bit inaccurate.

    If you write a program for DOS which needs to read from a disk, get swapped out of memory, read from the kbd or print to the screen, you don't write those services yourself. They are part of the OS. Granted, DOS is minimal. It's not even a multitasking OS, I think. But still, it did what it was called upon to do, and was stable. It is still around, in various forms, on boot disks and such. Doesn't NetWare run on it or something?

  • by nolife ( 233813 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:11PM (#4744751) Homepage Journal
    Here's a very good reference [] for DOS scripting. DOS does have its limits but it is still useful..
  • by tliet ( 167733 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:22PM (#4744821)
    Windows NT was never based on DOS. It contained (and still does) the virtual machine, Windows on Windows (WOW.EXE) for running 16 bit DOS and Windows programs. WOW is a far family member of SoftPC, an early PC emulator from Insignia running on the Mac and some UNIX environments.
  • by TheToon ( 210229 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:23PM (#4744827) Journal
    Still running PC-DOS 2000 (I've actually never run MS-DOS, PC-DOS was what came with my PC, and later on PC-DOS had more and better utilities) here, needed for some games like Privateer2 and other VCPI games.

    My first PC-DOS version was 2.0. It supported fixed disks (harddisks) and directories. Also it was the first version that supported file handles (stdout, in and err, handle 0, 1 and 2 respectively). Saw another one here claim that DOS didn't support stderr, but that's wrong. Before 2.0 DOS used FCBs (like CP/M) to open files. DOS internals really showed off it's CP/M heritage.

    What was good about DOS was that you had 100% hardware control... what was bad about DOS was that you had 100% hardware control. By many definitions, it wasn't even an OS, as it didn't do everything an OS should do. But it was a single-user system from the start, and as such it was good enough, with low overhead -- important in an age where 16K was the entry PC memory size... and 64K was a lot.

    That reminds me... 2.0 also was the first version that supported 180K/360K floppies, with the new support for 9 sectors pr track (up from 8).

    Lotus 123, MultiMate word proc (actually, and OEM version kalled WriteIT; and integrated package with CalcIT, KeepIT and several other apps), TurboPascal compiler, SideKick "PDA", Norton Utilities... later Norton Commander (still one of the best file managers).

    Ah, the memories....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:27PM (#4744845)
  • by treat ( 84622 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:29PM (#4744866)
    If you write a program for DOS which needs to read from a disk, get swapped out of memory, read from the kbd or print to the screen, you don't write those services yourself.

    Wrong. DOS does not support virtual memory. The built-in keyboard input and screen output was so poor that it was not used for all but the most trivial programs (and even trivial programs often did not use it). The only point you are right on is that filesystem access is indeed done using the interface DOS gives you.

  • DR-DOS download site (Score:4, Informative)

    by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:31PM (#4744876) Homepage Journal
    You gan still get DR-DOS for free (beer) here [], besides there are Free [] (speech) and Open DOSes around too.
  • by brsmith4 ( 567390 ) <brsmith4@gm a i l . com> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:26PM (#4745249)
    It's primitiveness and simplicity is what made DOS popular. Remember that. Your average user didn't want to dick around in a UNIX environment or have to purchase hardware that was ridiculously expensive so they could point n' click there way through a myriad of windows and menus. They memorized a couple key commands and they were set. Thats all that was needed. The average joe didn't need multitasking either. How many people do you see typing in a spreadsheet and browsing the web simultaneously? None. TSR's running in the background were as much multitasking as the user wanted to deal with (despite the fact that it wasn't even multitasking). They want to type in a command and get something. Its like a question and answer kind of thing.

    This is why DOS was popular: It followed the KISS philosophy - keep it simple stupid. People like that.
  • Re:QEMM!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MyHair ( 589485 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:27PM (#4745256) Journal
    I fondly recall the days of spending an hour tweaking the computer to get that extra 2k of ram available for programs.

    Oh yeah, the good old days. Damn I was good at that. I was better than Memmaker and QEMM because I knew about "yo-yo" TSRs and such: some TSR's loaded small and then got bigger at runtime while some loaded large but got smaller at runtime, so if you determined which was which and loaded them in the correct order you could fit more into himem than the automatic products.

    QEMM could try to make TSR's run above 1024k (and I couldn't), but that didn't usually work for me.
  • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:43PM (#4745393)
    Win 95 as a print server? For god sake, man, why? Printing always was (and still is) the most unreliable component in Windows (in my opinion). How often do you reboot that machine? Why not set up a Linux machine with Samba? Or is your printer a crappy inkjet with no drivers? That's the only reason I can think of to explain your set up..
  • by wkitchen ( 581276 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:48PM (#4745436)
    DOS can do accounting and customer tracking?

    It's amazing. If it's from Microsoft all 3rd party-effort (like accounting or customer tracking applications, or in the case of Windows drivers.) all of the sudden is credited to Microsoft.
    It didn't look to me like he was giving Microsoft credit for any of those applications. He was just pointing out that DOS is still performing real work, even in some fairly critical roles. I thought that was pretty clear, myself.
    Face it: DOS is a very, very primitive OS. Even in 1981 when it was released, it was already outdated. A decade later, when it was still shipped on most PCs, it was even more outdated. multi-user, multitasking...
    It was a small OS that was well suited to the limited hardware it was meant to run on (think 4.77MHz 8086 with a 180K single sided floppy and 128K ram on a first generation IBM PC.). Yeah, DOS was already primitive compared to Unix and other big OS's of the same time period, but tell me, just how would you get Unix to run on a machine such as that? And even if you could do it, do you think those tiny machines would have been able to run applications as well as they did if they had a fatter OS? It was a good choice for machines that individuals and small businesses could reasonably afford at that time. And it was stable. Sure, it didn't have much resistance to misbehaving applications, but malfunctions of DOS itself were almost unheard of. And many of those old DOS applications were very stable as well.

    I believe the world would have been worse off, not better, if a more sophisticated OS had been used on early PC's. Of course, it did outlive it's usefullness. By 1985, much superior alternatives were available that were practical even for the consumer and small business class of machines. Maybe the world would have been better off switching to a more sophisticated OS then. But by that time, it had a significant installed base.
    As a die-hard Microsoft user you probably don't know, but those existed long before Windows - and also before DOS.
    He seems knowlegeable enough. He quite likely is aware of that. But as a die-hard Microsoft basher, you apparently would rather assume otherwise. I personally loathe Microsoft. But this kind of gratituitous bashing of anyone who grants MS any credit at all, only gives the MS apologists more ammo to use against the rest of us.
  • Re:QEMM!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:57PM (#4745524) Homepage Journal
    QEMM could try to make TSR's run above 1024k (and I couldn't), but that didn't usually work for me.
    There was a product from Helix called Multimedia Cloaking that contained special versions of the Microsoft Mouse driver, MSCDEX, and other common TSRs modified to live above 1M. That worked quite well with QEMM. With that I was *finally* able to cram in all the TSRs I used without taking up any conventional memory (below 640K).

    But I'm not particularly nostalgic about it.

  • by Mogster ( 459037 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:33PM (#4745824)
    MS-DOS was born in August 1980, in Tukwila, Washington, the creation of Tim Paterson and the Seattle Computer Company. Initially called QDOS 0.10 (short for "Quick and Dirty Operating System"), MS-DOS was a lifelong resident of the Seattle area. In late 1980, nonexclusive rights for 86-DOS 0.3, as the operating system was then known, were sold to Microsoft. In July 1981, as Paterson recounted in a June 1983 BYTE article entitled "A Short History of MS-DOS," Microsoft bought all rights to the DOS from Seattle Computer and changed the name of the operating system to "MS-DOS." t20011028s0 001/1029_editor.html
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @06:41PM (#4745908) Homepage
    Yep, no virtual memory. And remember those tricks to make use of Extended/Expanded memory? Shudder! And the shell game with drivers to maximize the base memory? No multitasking either, unless you count background printing and TSRs. (All those chained keyboard interrupt handlers and the documented undocumented DOSIdle interrupt. Scarey stuff kids!)

    MSDOS, it was fun. Bye-bye! (Come to think of it, I recently used an MSDOS install to bootstrap a Win98 install from a SBPro CDROM. Then I screamed and used that to bootstrap a Linux install. Maybe I'll keep those DOS disks handy just in case. :^)

  • by MegaFur ( 79453 ) <`moc.nzz.ymok' `ta' `0dryw'> on Monday November 25, 2002 @01:01AM (#4748699) Journal

    please try cygwin []. Cygwin isn't the name of the shell, it's the name of the compatibily thingie that lets you use some GNU apps and other Free Unix apps on Windows. It mostly consists of some .dlls that act as a compatiability layer. You have your choice of shells to choose from on a Unix system. The one that's used on almost all Linux systems is bash, which is a feature-enhanced version of the classic Unix shell. That shell was called "The Bourne Shell" and was named "sh" (or should it be the other way round?). Therefore, it's only natural that the name bash stands for "The Bourne Again Shell".

    The catch: In my experience, Cygwin runs much better on NT-based Windozes (NT 4.0, 2000, XP) than on DOS based Windozes (95, 98, Me). But, if you've got lots of processor power, Cygwin should still run quite nicely, even on crufty Win9x. The other catch: all of this sort of assumes that you're already somewhat familiar with the Unix Way. If you're not, it could be quite frustrating. But there are many, many help texts and HOWTos available (Google for HOWTO) and if you're adventurous and you want to know what a command line should be like, then it's out there waiting for you.

    Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. Another alternative is 4Dos or 4NT. It's available from these people []. It's pretty good, except that's it's shareware and therefore commercial and I've had problems with certain versions crashing frequently. Also, there's a couple points where they could've gone for compatibility with Unix but chose to ignore it. (E.g. to not match the characters a,b, or c in a filename, they use [!abc] whereas the proper Unix Way is [^abc].)

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @01:05AM (#4748726) Journal
    There was never any such thing as Windows 1.0. Windows started at 3.x. MS just wanted to make it look mature.

    Screen shots available here: m [] 1/ [] soft/windows10/page_01.htm []

    Other good info here _Windows []

  • by calidoscope ( 312571 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @02:12AM (#4749045)
    To set the record straight - they bought it from Seattle Computer Products. Tim Patterson was an employee of SCP when he wrote QDOS and 86-DOS. Tim was then hired by M$ to continue working on DOS (and then went on to start Falcon). The DOS numbering schemes continue from 86-DOS, the last release of 86-DOS was v1.14 (the basis for PC-DOS 1.0) and the first MS-DOS release was v1.25 (PC-DOS 1.1).

    QDOS/86-DOS was designed to make it easy to translate CP/M programs written in asembler and have them run with minor tweaking. This extended to using pretty much the same API for the file control blocks, pretty much the same numbers for the function calls, pretty much the same layout for the first 256 bytes of the transient program area.

    Where 86-DOS differed from CP/M, it tended to be more UNIX like, e.g. copy source destination rather than PIP destination source . More functions were included with the command interperter and the batch files were a bit nicer to use than CP/M's submit files.

    'Course you've got to remember that CP/M was designed to run in 32K of memory.

    The incident with DOS wasn't the only time that SCP got the shaft from M$. SCP was the outfit that designed the Z-80 card for use on the Apple II.

  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @03:45AM (#4749457) Homepage
    There was never any such thing as Windows 1.0. Windows started at 3.x. MS just wanted to make it look mature.

    As Alien54 proved: Bzzzt. I'm sorry, that's wrong. Thank you very much for playing.

    Windows versions 1 and 2 did indeed exist, but were not generally sold as separate products, but rather bundled with Excel, and later, Word for Windows.

    The ONLY reason Windows was written by MS in the first place was so they could sell Excel (which was originally a Mac-only product) on the PC. Remember, this was back in the days when Lotus 1-2-3 was cleaning their clock (it was, in fact the "killer app" for the PC), and Multiplan was clearly not cutting it as a competitive strategy.

    Windows was not very impressive back then. I was part of a team that evaluated PC GUIs for a large aerospace company in 1997, and Digital Research's GEM came out very clearly on top of Windows 2.0 at that time, and it became the standard. Windows 3.0, while still technically ugly, was aesthetically beautiful (by the standards of the day - only Sun 386i Roadrunner users had a better-looking environment back then), and so it was an instant hit, especially for all those that wanted Excel, but didn't want to pay Apple's then-exorbitant prices to get it.

    I think the success of Win 3.0 took MS a bit by surprise, but they recovered their composure quickly and managed to capitalize on the opprtunity the market handed them...

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.