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January 5, 2017

MS-DOS Finally, Finally Put Out to Pasture

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

It’s been years since Microsoft last released MS-DOS; I believe version 6.22 in 1993 was the final standalone version. Microsoft dropped all support for DOS quite some time ago. Still, Windows versions 95, 98, and ME were based on DOS. Even after those versions, the command prompt lingered on in Windows as the CMD.EXE program. Now that remnant about to vanish.

According to an article in ComputerWorld, Microsoft is going to drop the DOS command prompt program from the next release of Windows. Adios.

I think this move is dumb, and not because I wrote DOS For Dummies. No, it’s because the command prompt continues to serve a purpose, one that’s easy to explain for those rare times you need it.

For example, it’s simple to dive into a command prompt window and run a utility. When troubleshooting, the command prompt’s simplicity is perfect: To obtain the PC’s IP address, you open a CMD.EXE window and type ipconfig. To get that answer in Windows, you need to open the Settings app, tap, click, tap, touch, click, point, move, click, etc. The answer eventually appears, but it’s tedious to get there. Further: Windows update routinely changes the location of some key commands, yet the command prompt remains constant.

The nerds will argue that the text-mode PowerShell utility is far better than the old DOS command prompt. They’re correct, but the PowerShell was written for nerds. Surprise. It’s really technical and I doubt anyone memorizes all the complex and intricate commands available.

Had Microsoft morphed the command prompt into PowerShell years ago, then no one would be writing about the ultimate demise of DOS. That would have been a brilliant idea, but Microsoft worked on PowerShell in parallel with Windows. It was almost sneaky: I knew about PowerShell, but was unaware of how advanced and complex it had become. Even today, when I use PowerShell it’s because I’m reading some tech support document and typing the commands via copy-and-paste. I see no point in learning the whole PowerShell. I doubt anyone would.

But DOS? A lot nerds today still use and appreciate DOS. To pull it away without any reason other than it’s old is just rude. Unix nerds still use the Bourne shell. DOS, despite it’s silly, limited nature, deserves the same respect.


  1. I must admit I like having a DOS shell, it lets you fix stuff quick with out having to use the UI. I think I always prefer to hammer at the keyboard as I am a Commodre user who grew into a PC.

    Comment by glennp — January 5, 2017 @ 3:28 am

  2. PowerShell is intimidating. I’ve been running some tests recently, and most of the DOS commands work in PowerShell. Many do not. And PowerShell’s behavior isn’t consistent with DOS. I find it rude, but I found DOS rude as well. And the Microsoft documentation is weak.

    Comment by admin — January 5, 2017 @ 7:23 am

  3. UPDATE 6 JANUARY: The article cited was a bit exaggerated. According to Microsoft, the CMD program will be around for the foreseeable future, it’s just going to be more difficult to access. Instead of appearing on the Win+X menu, PowerShell will take its place.

    Microsoft’s goal is to shift power users over to the PowerShell. I predict this move will require more than changing menus. Specifically, the generation of power users they’re appealing to grew up with DOS and are more comfortable with the old command prompt. PowerShell is cryptic and strange. Still, the point is that the old, friendly command prompt isn’t going anywhere.

    Comment by admin — January 6, 2017 @ 8:44 am

  4. Well, I can’t say thats a shock. Maybe Win8 did teach them something after all…

    Comment by glennp — January 7, 2017 @ 3:50 am

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