DOS is dead, long live DOS

I watched Bill Gates at the Windows XP launch and started having flashbacks to the Windows 95 launch. I sometimes wonder if Gates has some genetic predisposition that causes him to believe that history doesn't exist.

          I watched Bill Gates at the Windows XP launch and started having flashbacks to the Windows 95 launch. I sometimes wonder if Gates has some genetic predisposition that causes him to believe that history doesn't exist - or, perhaps, the past is whatever he says it is.

          In August 1995, Gates told us that the era of DOS was over - that while Windows 3.1 sat on top of DOS, Windows 95 would banish MS-DOS to the scrap heap of history. No matter how many analysts and commentators said otherwise, we were assured that DOS was gone.

          Then came Windows 98, which - we were assured - further buried DOS. Not that it needed to be buried, you understand, but still - just in case you were worried, Gates said it was really gone now.

          Once again when Windows Millennium Edition was launched, as expected, we were told that finally DOS was gone. Redmond admitted that it had played a small part in Win 9X (like, the operating system couldn't exist without it), but ME had finally done away with DOS - you couldn't boot it to DOS; there wasn't even an "MSDOS Mode" listed! Wasn't that proof enough?

          Now Microsoft has launched Windows XP. Evidently Gates is recycling his launch speeches because he said, "... so today it really is actually the end of the MS-DOS era . . . ." And, oddly enough, he really expects us to believe him. That is, believe him now and ignore what he'd said before.

          In a few years we'll be seeing the next version of Microsoft's operating system, the one that's currently called "Blackcomb." I'll wager my dollars against your doughnuts that sometime during the launch event we'll hear Gates tell us that - once and for all - DOS is dead.

          DOS, the Freddy Krueger of operating systems/environments, may be dead, but all these little utilities users have gathered over the years still want to run in that command line space, breathing new life into the old operating system, and Gates will keep trying to bury it.

          Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at wired@vquill.com.

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