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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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  • Ahh the memories... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rastachops ( 543268 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:39PM (#4744490)
    I wonder how different Id be if I had been brought up on *nix terminal rather than MSDOS....
  • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:41PM (#4744504) Homepage Journal
    ...I grew up on that thing :) Ever since my uncle plopped me down in front of his 386SX to play Doom shareware (I know, I'm a youngin), I've been a computer geek ever since.

    Even after going from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95, I still found it better to do 80% of my stuff from the command line. Windows 98 SE finally kicked me off of that habit :/

    Sigh, command lines... so fun, so minimalist. I don't like my start menu :\

  • Good riddance. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sfraggle ( 212671 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:44PM (#4744531)
    Good riddance I say. MS-DOS was intended only to be a stopgap until Xenix was completed but unfortunately that never happened. Its a shame that a version of the braindead DOS command line lives on in modern versions of Windows and hasnt been replaced with something closer to what Unix has.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:48PM (#4744559)
    "and been magnitudes more popular than nearly everything else that rose to compete with it."

    This makes sense, since DOS wasn't written by microsoft: they subcontracted it out.

    History could have been much different had IBM chosen CP/M for the PC OS.
  • by angryargus ( 559948 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:49PM (#4744566)
    You guys deally have to wait for Windows ME to die before you can proclaim DOS dead.

    The one date companies are concerned about is the non-supported date for NT4, which is this coming June 2003.
  • to open source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stackdump ( 553408 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:50PM (#4744575)
    Since Microsoft is going to stop supporting these products altogether, would it be too much to expect that they make windows 3.x open source (for posterity). If it is open sourced it may live on, at the heart of kind of windows/*nix abomination.
  • by wiggys ( 621350 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:50PM (#4744577)
    I remember the immense enjoyment I used to get by editing my config.sys file to use EMS memory, only to change it back to not use it when I tried to run a different program 5 minutes later.

    Actually, I used to use the fabulous CONED program, which allowed you to create a bunch of autoexec/config files and switch between them. This, coupled with the even fabulous-er Xtreegold meant my DOS setup was pretty much unbeatable.

  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:57PM (#4744639) Journal
    They didn't subcontract it -- they bought it (it was made when they bought it).

    And they licensed it to IBM something like 12 hours before they actually bought it... :-)

    MS actually does a surprisingly small amount of development. You see their names associated with a lot of software products, but frequently they're just the publisher, they purchased the product, or they subcontracted out. Take MS's excellent fonts (ah, Verdana, thou art equalled only by Espy Sans upon my screen). Subcontracted. Their wonderful Close Combat war sim series (those games are *great*...if WINE ever supports them fully, I'm going to go nuts) are only published by MS. Bungie made Halo...but they were a company that did incredible stuff and had tons of work on Halo done when Microsoft purchased them. Hotmail was purchased.

    Office and Windows, the two core MS products, were both done in-house, however.

    And both are among the flakiest products in their lineup.

    Also, in response to the people talking about DOS, DOS is still and has been used for some time for a real-time OS. Linux isn't really that great for doing a real-time stuff (well, vanilla Linux isn't great for real-time period) when you have very tight resources available.

    It's also still the only way most people let you flash your BIOS...someone needs to make a mini-OS just for that.
  • by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @03:58PM (#4744645)
    DOS is still used in many embedded applications. Even though very few new DOS-based embedded apps are currently developed, there are lots of previously developed apps currently in production.

    If Microsoft really wants to deny new DOS-licenses, this could be a real problem for a couple of companies.

  • DOS was good (once) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by allanj ( 151784 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:02PM (#4744689)

    I liked DOS on my old machines. You could do amazing things with it, and it would just keep going. Program to snoop passwords on old Netware systems? No problem. Hook up int09, wait for someone to enter 'login' and record the next 30 keystrokes. Want to make a cooperative multitasking system out of it? Took less than two weeks of coding, and basically just involved reprogramming timer frequencies and wrapping int13 and int21 to provide primitive reentrancy. Oh, memory lane is a good place to visit :-)

    Win3.1 was fun to play with, but died on me way to often for my liking. Win95 was better, but started to get in the way too much...

    Don't get me wrong - I like my Linux box. And my new W2K box at work. I can do fun stuff with them too. I just don't get the same great feeling of control with them, since the OS will NOT move out of the way. Hmm - maybe I should become a kernel hacker instead :-)

  • by gmack ( 197796 ) <.ten.erifrenni. .ta. .kcamg.> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:02PM (#4744690) Homepage Journal
    It was bad.. what few interfaces that existed were so slow you generally had to do everything manually

    Most of my old dos programming books have instructions on how to read and write the MSdos disk format directly.

    If you did anything 32 bit the general idea was to disable MSdos entirely and getting back to 16 bit was *ugly*

    When your apps are doing that many things manually it becomes a limmiting factor and we saw this when the disk formats became too big for the orignal structure and they came up with ugly hacks to extend it. It's also a bit twisted when any app can corrupt the filesystem. 1000 places for possible bugs instead of 1 (the OS).

    Still.. it had it's fun times and a part of me will miss programming for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:08PM (#4744735)
    I'd like to see a change in the copyright laws: "five years after any software product that is
    no longer sold or supported, whichever comes later, then that product becomes a part of the public domain"
  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:12PM (#4744760)
    DOS was the oliver twist of OS'e and had a hard life. DOS was not Bill Gate's son. He was adopted from another company in seattle and renamed from CPM. Then Master Gates then forced him to infiltrate the stronghold of IBM trade Federation. Eventually he was forced to donn a cloke and helmet, and proclaim himself Darth Windows. He proved all to mortal revealing his DOS underpinings from time to time. Some say he died long ago when he joined the BORG

    Maybe this is off topic but Is there a command line interface available to windows. Yeah I know you can run some comands from the start menu. But is there any sort of scripable command line interface that is analogous to the UNIX terminal prompt?

    And what about a real-time interface for controling equipment? Is that now all gone from windows now? Unix was never much good at it (you had to use special pseudo-unix things like vmworks to get true real time interfaces, regular unix just was not built with that in mind)

  • QEMM!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Restil ( 31903 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:13PM (#4744762) Homepage
    I fondly recall the days of spending an hour tweaking the computer to get that extra 2k of ram available for programs. Hey, because when programs had to fit in conventional ram, and we're talking the 640k that should be enough for anyone, it was a challenge getting the programs you wanted, plus the 15 or so TSR's all to fit in ram. Don't forget about himem. You can stash stuff up there, make more room. And if you really got desparate, video memory was available too. :)

  • by astrosmash ( 3561 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:24PM (#4744834) Journal
    DOS wasn't that bad of an OS. That's no bullshit. It has its high points
    Oh, really? Name one good MSDOS feature.
    ... and has been around *much* longer, and been magnitudes more popular than nearly everything else that rose to compete with it.

    MSDOS was never popular. It was ubiquitous. It was ubiquitous because from the very beginning nearly every consumer and business PC shipped with MSDOS installed. So ubiquitous that developers would choose to patch or work around MSDOS altogether rather than consider using any of the much better alternatives available at the time. So ubiquitous that it single-handedly enabled MICROS~1's rise to power despite the terrible quality of the product (not to mention the terrible quality of most MS software from the 80s). So ubiquitous that, if you consider Windows XP to be Microsoft's first non-MSDOS-based consumer OS, it took Microsoft 21 years to ditch it. Competing products never had a chance.

    MSDOS was many things, but it was never popular, and it was never good at anything, ever.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:30PM (#4744872)
    The DOS command line sucks.

    That's why power users never used it. There were many excellent full-screen file manager tools available. My favorite was PFM.COM (back when .COM meant executable file). Even today I sometimes miss being able to do a few of the tricks PFM could do.

    Midnight Commander comes close, but since it translates everything through a seriall TTY, it loses the mysterious solid feel that you got by programming directly to the keyboard and screen hardware. It also tries to offload some hard work into bash, so there's a bit of an impedance mismatch between the file manager and the shell beneath it. The old DOS file managers were more monolithic, and therefore felt more unified.

    Anyway, with the right tools, I never felt that I was lacking expressive power when running DOS.

  • by fungus ( 37425 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:38PM (#4744925)
    Basically, an operating system is the software responsible for managing memory, cpu, storage, devices and input/output. It is the software that lets you run other software on a computer.

    You are lost if you think DOS was not an operating system. te m.htm
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @04:57PM (#4745054) Homepage Journal
    At work for us, we turn over machines every three years. We will continue to have to support Win95OSR2 through the end of 2003 at least until the last older hardware is still in service.

    We've never supported 98/ME or NT on the desktop.

    We started W2K on the desktop officially last year.

    We have no plans to support XP. We will have to spend bucks to get even our bare bones suite of internal apps to run on it.

    Does anyone know why the MS alert says XP Pro will have 2 years more life than XP Home?
  • by nlinecomputers ( 602059 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:02PM (#4745087)
    This is all biased opinion but it's MY biased opinion:

    /dev/fda or /dev/hda tells me exactly what it is and where it is. a: or c: or q: doesn't tell me shit other then that is what was setup. Only by knowing the established naming convention do I "know" that a: is a floppy. And D:? is it my CD-ROM or my second hard drive or my second partition on my first hard drive. In this *NIX is logical and superior.

    C:/> or $ Sorry DOS wins here. the C: prompt tells me my location. The $ don't. In both cases, of course, you can modify the prompt to be more informative. But the "default" setting dos wins - though not by much.

    dir or ls. No winner here both are not obvious what they do if you are newbie.

    format C: or mke2fs /dev/hda I'd say neither got it quite right. "Format" is sure easier to grasp as a newbie but we still got that "what kind of drive is C:?" problem. While the other command defines the file system and the exact type of device being delt with. I'd have to say *NIX is better.
    And you didn't mention \ vr / I've seen plenty of people get confused over the \ that is used in dos based directories and the / used all over the net. DOS did it wrong.

    Go ahead. Mod me down. I'm not just a Troll. I am OGRE and you better call me "Sir" when you say that.
  • by facelessnumber ( 613859 ) <drew@pi[ ] ['ttm' in gap]> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:07PM (#4745121) Homepage
    DOS did little more than provide a way to execute programs, and a way for programs to get at the hardware. That's exactly why I liked it. I used DOS exclusively for a long time. (Sorry - I didn't have a *NIX at my disposal) I didn't start using Windows 3.1 until Windows 95 was gearing up for OSR2. I had to switch to a GUI because I just had to try this "web browser" thing I kept seeing on BBSes for download. Did anyone ever have DOS freeze up the computer? I mean DOS by itself, without anything else running? Even Linux, my OS of choice, can do that. And Windows is known for it.

    Anyway, the whole reason I wrote this is to say that as long as I still have a use for Ghost [], I will still have a use for DOS.
  • by MyHair ( 589485 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:20PM (#4745202) Journal
    You can use the Windows 2000 CD to boot into the "recovery console" which is a CLI on top of the Win2k kernel. You have to log in as administrator, but then you can start various services, access the drives and use doslike commands and have some extra tools like fixmbr and fixboot. It takes forever to boot it up, though, because it loads all the drivers it thinks anyone might need, like all scsi drivers and such.

    It doesn't compare well to Linux or DOS boot disks, but the capability is there. I don't think NT has this, but I bet XP does.
  • by BlindSpot ( 512363 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:24PM (#4745233)
    I still spend a lot of time in DOS on my WinME machine. My primary text editor is still DOS-based! When I do computer work for people they always boggle about how I go into a DOS prompt and start typing in commands instead of pushing a mouse around.

    I grew up on DOS systems. In high school it was all we had: WordPerfect 5.1, Borland C++ 2.0, etc. You had to know DOS to get any work done!

    DOS had its faults of course but it had many strong points:

    1) The command line syntax was clean and easy to learn.

    2) The set of commands was small enough to hold in your head. On Unix I often forget the commands for stuff because there are so many of them, and there are a bunch I still haven't learned.

    3) Graphics in DOS programs were easy; almost trivial by today's standards.

    4) You can play with whatever part of the system you want and not have to jump through hoops. In fact, the hardware course at my U is still using DOS because it's so easy to do hardware programming for.

    5) Quick! No multitasking => No overhead.

    Dead or not, I'll probably still be using DOS for many years to come.
  • by lethargic ( 562611 ) <> on Sunday November 24, 2002 @05:42PM (#4745388) Homepage
    > Actually yes, many things... I know of companies that still use DOS for
    > many things to this day for accounting, customer tracking, or other
    > important tasks.

    I work for an IT firm that used to be really into selling and supporting Point of Sale systems (Touch screens, Cash drawers, Receipt printers, Magnetic card readers, LCD displays on a pole, etc .. lots of cool stuff :) )

    These all ran on MS-DOS and were networked using LANtastic. It took less than 15 seconds to boot a station, and they almost never crashed.

    We still service about 5 or 6 resturaunts from a major chain in Canada that use these systems to this day, with 3+ stations each. They usually only call every year or two when some hardware goes bad.
  • Re:MS-DOS is dead... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ParallelJoe ( 624814 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @08:32PM (#4747026)
    FreeDOS is actually a lot of fun. A person at work gave me an old but perfect P60. All SCSI, 24M RAM, 15" monitor, mouse, the works. It cost over $4K new. I wiped the hard drive and loaded FreeDOS on it along with a simple menu program. Did that bring back memories. Next I searched the web and stared downloading old games like mad. Wold3D, Falcon, Raptor, Doom, Quake. I even purchased Duke Nukem 3D for all of $9.00. There is an amazing amout of stuff out there. The quality of the graphics is really incredible. So now it is a dedicated game machine for my 6 & 7 year old boys. Major Dad karma. I loaded it on another old box as well, got it hooked up to the Internet and loaded the Arachne browser on it. It works a lot better than you would think. Given the amount of free software out there, it makes a great computer for someone who may not have a lot of cash. Especially in poorer countries. And keep in mind that FreeDOS will run on harware that Linux and the BSDs just don't run well on such as older 386s and earlier.
  • will be better DOS. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @09:39PM (#4747486) Homepage Journal
    Ah yes, it's still useful []. There's lots of software that was written to run custom machines with 286s and what not. When that computer poops out and your old M$ DOS disks won't work on new hardware, freeDOS might just save your day. Makd CDs of that old software if you don't have source code or time to rewrite it. FreeDOS is alive.

    In the tradition of all free software, we will soon see that freeDOS surpasses M$DOS in all ways. Bugs will be fixed, it will take up less space, it will run better. Thanks for the reminder about freeDOS, there's been worlds of improvement since I looked at it a year ago or so.

  • by deniea ( 257313 ) on Sunday November 24, 2002 @11:30PM (#4748200)
    I've been around in computers long enough to have seen quite a bit of IT. Started with DOS on 2.11 or so, and then quickly it moved to DOS 3.1(1) and on and on and on.. (Yes the "new-and-improved"-thing always has always been that way)

    DOS is still (for some tasks) the perfect OS. I've developed a POS-system for cafes (touch screen, water tight, no harddisk, no fan, networking, standalone operation etc) and it all had to fit in 1.44 Mb (standard size of early flash disks). With bartenders turning it off when done..

    For some task like that, DOS was/is the perfect tool. Why should you use an bigger tool then the job requires ??

    For what I read as the comments, a lot of things are just incorrect...
    • Some claim DOS has no networking.. Wrong ! Novell, SMB, UUCICO, even TCP/IP can be made to work.
    • In DOS you can only use 640K.. Wrong ! DOS extender, you can use all you want. Even more, remember LIM (Lotus-Intel-Microsoft) drivers for dos (also known als Expanded, paged or EMS)? Extended memory also work in DOS with the DOS extender (DOOM used it for example). Also check out UMBPCI [] if you have low memory hungry DOS applications ! (even works in Windos 9x)
    • DOS can not be used to script.. Wrong ! You can do almost everything you want in scripting in DOS.. Well I must agree not everything is so easy that anyone can do it, but that I see more as a problem of someones knowledge of DOS, not of DOS.
    • No taskswitching in DOS ? Wrong ! Never heard of Dosshell, sidekick and the likes ?

    And there's tons of more things that can be done in DOS.. You'd really be amazed what you can do with it...(Codepages, ANSIS.SYS, Extreme cool memory stuff, DOSKEY, DEBUG, EDLIN etc)

    If one would take the time to look into DOS, if can be a very valueable tool for some problems! Nwer doesn;t make the older things less good for a job. And DOS itself NEVER crashed on me!
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @12:24AM (#4748526) Homepage Journal

    There are two ways that a motherboard or adapter maker can design a BIOS that completely avoids fsckups when being flashed:

    • Use FreeDOS or some other small realtime OS to run the flash program, and provide a fallback mask-ROM BIOS for when the BIOS checksum doesn't match (that is, when the BIOS write failed).
    • Put two copies of the BIOS in the flash chip, and if the newer copy of the BIOS fails to checksum, use the older working copy. Have the flash program overwrite only the older copy.
  • by amorangi ( 187312 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @12:52AM (#4748663) Homepage
    > Ok, a definition for you:
    >OS: Operating System
    >DOSDisk Operating System

    MS-DOS was called QDOS before it was bought by MS, which stood for Quick and Dirty OS.
    Dirty is a more apt description, as OSes are primarily dealing with interfaces to the CPU, and MS-DOS had no virtual memory requiring page fault management etc, so using "Disk" to describe the "D" in the acronym is pretty stupid.
  • by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Monday November 25, 2002 @11:12AM (#4751270) Journal
    I've actually had to use the hjkl keys as arrow keys in vi recently. I telneted in from a windows box and it was screwing up the control characters.

    Software written for when you couldn't count on arrow keys or color displays is still useful for those desparate situations where you need to get in and get SOMETHING to work. I don't even know how you'd try to get into a flaky windows box...

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?