Appendix B. DOS Resurrected

If you don’t quite have a grasp on the concept of DOS, here’s a crash course on MS-DOS (short for Microsoft Disk Operating System). DOS has been included with PCs since the very first IBM PCs in the early 1980s, and even the newest PCs still use it to some extent. DOS was the PC operating system used before Microsoft Windows became the standard. All versions of Windows from 1.0 to 3.11 relied on DOS; Windows was thought of only as an extension, because one needed to load DOS before starting Windows. Windows 9x /Me is still based somewhat on MS-DOS for compatibility with the vast majority of available software and hardware products, but it does a good job of hiding this dependence. Microsoft has made Windows NT and Windows 2000 completely independent of MS-DOS but still makes available the command prompt from within Windows for those who need the functionality.

In previous versions of Windows, you could unload Windows, leaving only DOS, which was useful for running older applications and DOS games, as well as certain troubleshooting tactics. Each successive version of Windows goes to greater lengths to obscure DOS; Microsoft has actually hobbled many DOS features for Windows Me, including the ability to make bootable diskettes (other than the Windows Startup Disk, as described in Chapter 6 ).

DOS is our friend, as well as our foe. It had better be, because Windows Me requires it to function. This means, more or less, that Windows is susceptible to many ...

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