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An acronym for Disk Operating System, in a general sense, DOS refers to just about any operating system. More commonly, it describes the operating system Microsoft developed in 1981 for IBM's line of personal computers. Though syntactically distinct, DOS shares similarities with a Unix shell. It has a command-line interface and analogs to many common Unix commands. However, DOS is a 16-bit, single-user operating system that does not support multi-tasking. It is far easier to administer than Unix, but less powerful. Compared to graphical interfaces such as Windows and Mac OS X, it's also not particularly user-friendly.

With the development of Windows, MS-DOS has faded in importance. However, you can still run some DOS commands at the command prompt in current versions of Windows, which can be useful in situations where a graphical interface is less efficient. See ARCHIVED: What are some examples of common DOS commands?

Several DOS alternatives and/or enhancements are available, including FreeDOS and DR-DOS. FreeDOS is a version of DOS that is freely distributed under the GNU General Public License. Though not completely compatible with MS-DOS, it will run many DOS programs. For more information, visit FreeDOS. DeviceLogics, Inc. produces an MS-DOS compatible product called DR-DOS. It sports advanced features, including multi-tasking capabilities. For more information, see DR-DOS.

For forums of discussion about DOS, consult the Usenet newsgroups in the comp.os.msdos.* hierarchy.

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Last modified on 2018-01-18 12:11:45.