Updated: 11/18/2022 by Computer Hope
MS-DOS logo

Short for Microsoft Disk Operating System, MS-DOS is a non-graphical command line operating system derived from 86-DOS created for IBM-compatible computers. MS-DOS was originally written by Tim Paterson and introduced by Microsoft in August 1981 and was last updated in 1994 when MS-DOS 6.22 was released. MS-DOS allows users to navigate, open, and otherwise manipulate files on their computer from a command line instead of a GUI (graphical user interface) like Windows.

Windows DOS command prompt window

Today, MS-DOS is no longer used; however, the command shell, more commonly known as the Windows command line, is still used by many users. The bottom image is an example of a Windows command line window running in Microsoft Windows 10.

Most computer users are only familiar with navigating Microsoft Windows using the mouse. Unlike Windows, MS-DOS is navigated using MS-DOS commands. For example, if you want to see all the files in a folder in Windows, you would double-click the folder to open it in Windows Explorer. In MS-DOS, you would navigate to the folder using the cd command and then list the files in that folder using the dir command.

What is DOS-based?

DOS-based or MS-DOS-based are terms to describe software or hardware designed for MS-DOS or run from a Windows command line.

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