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v. March 20, 2017
Valid for MS-Windows 7, MS-Windows XP, MS-Windows VISTA, also back to MS-Windows 2000, MS-Windows 1995, 1998 and whatever you used or you will use in the near future.
You can easily and instantly use this hidden powerful system, but only in a reduced manner.
This is within the MS-Windows menu system, when you type in the provided single command input field the name of a specific program for execution.
More power has been disabled...
A full and efficient use of this feature is since 2000 or so or even far earlier hindered as follows: The execution window is automatically closed as soon as a program has been executed.
The old PC-DOS from Microsoft is the equivalent to a major feature of LINUX power
Let us consider the old PC-DOS interface as a "terminal window", "shell" or how you prefer to name it. This is like the terminal window which comes with every standard LINUX. Yes, every MS-Windows system has it, too. This way, every MS-Windows system still includes the essential functions of PC-DOS. For professional LINUX users, the terminal window is where all the power is ready to be used.
For some strange reason, Microsoft does not want that average users can use such a power feature.
There are some historical reasons involved. Microsoft wanted many years ago to wipe out competition by other companies which offered compatible PC-DOS software, like the powerful DR-DOS with its many advanced features. Another reason of that time was the competition with Apple and Amiga computers.
In addition, there is the widespread but strange opinion that average users should not learn to use a computer properly. More precisely: If you oblige people not to learn how to escape environment restrictions, they will be obliged to continue buying your computing environment.
How more power has been disabled...
The current pre-configured state of the terminal window is that it will close instantly after running a program. This will wipe out instantly all response displays. By this pre-configuration it becomes impossible to use this in the sense of an interactive terminal window. But true computing happens on just this level. It is the vital key feature of LINUX and of all powerful operating systems. A related expression for this feature is: You have "shell access".
There are various possible workarounds for this.
For example, you could create a batch file .bat which calls the programs, makes a pause and goes back to the beginning.
Or you might play with configuration details.
Or you might install a PC-DOS emulator software.
We do not want improvisations. We want to have the true power of direct system access.
We want to use this within our daily computing environment, hence in a fully integrated manner. So we do not want to deal with the specifics of emulator software. We want instant access to true computing.
In the main menu system of MS-Win, go to the line for program execution.
Type there: cmd.exe /k
... and then the key "Enter".
By this, the job is already done.
How to memorize this command?
Think of: The cmd="command" system is to "exe"cute; "k"eep it active.
Be aware of a basic difference \ and / :
In LINUX and other professional systems, the normal slash / stands for: "directory". The Internet which is an extension of such systems, therefore in the site addresses applies the /.
In the Microsoft system (for the technical understanding level of consumers, average company employees and so on), the directories are separated by the backslash \. The normal slash / is used instead to define execution specifics for a program (for a "command"),
From now you have on MS-Window computers instantly a powerful key feature like within every LINUX PC, in spite of the artificially downgraded MS-Windows machine. You have a terminal window on your PC. Microsoft apparently does not want that every average user can become a power user. From now YOU CAN.
It is working in the simplest possible manner: You just have to enter a command. You can execute many - most - or close to all old MS-DOS programs.
Example: dir C:\
You can also call current new recent programs on your PC: just by calling the program name.
Be aware that this will not always supply the expected result. If execution requires some settings like /v or whatever, after the command or "program name", you have to know such details... or you might be deceived from unexpected software behavior.
For example, you can make use of extremely powerful file and directory commands. From now you can easily copy and move complete file sets and directory trees or file groups. This is a must for security needs and for image organization.
Now you can easily with 1 command move selections or all your image or music files from your main hard disk to an external storage device connected via USB. No need any more for the permanent time-wasting battles against the many restrictions of your graphics and mouse user interface.
So you can with 1 command create security backups, physically separated from your PC.
The storage devices for security backups should be deposited in a secure place with fire protection, e.g. in a steel box with some distance from everything which might develop much heat during a fire. Or in addition, you might cross-exchange security SD cards or DVD discs with friends living in a different city. A typical storage device might also be an external hard disks, connected during the backup copy via USB.
A more reliable connection is via external SATA. In this case, the external hard disk should be connected during boot with the computer, and separated after shutting down the computer. Compared with USB 2.0, the speed advantage by SATA might result in half of the USB time.
Be aware that these are the vital basic minimum security rules of professional systems. Backups have to be on storage units which do not continue to be physically connected with the computer. Thanks to cmd.exe , from now you have won the flexibility to comply with security rules and with speed optimization.
dir = show the files of a directory
mkdir = create a new directory
(NEW FILE) = create a file - example: place some help information into a new file
xcopy /? > C:\newf1.txt
xcopy = copy files
xcopy C:\newf1.* C:\newdir\
ren = rename files (= "move" within the same directory)
ren C:\newf1.txt C:\newdf2.txt
del = remove files
cd = walk into a directory
rmdir = remove directories
exit = leave the PC-DOS window
Try the command: xcopy /?
Sorry, this does not fit on the screen? And you have not yet learned or configured how to scroll upwards?
Then try instead:
xcopy /? > newf2.txt
By the > you have exported the display data into ia new file. View the proof:
Now open a simple old software program for editing text files:
Within this text file editor opt to open a file. You should be able to find your: newf2.txt
Open this file. Now you can comfortably scroll and view all lines. State the significant power of this command xcopy. It might take several hours or even days to learn and test all the features of xcopy and the possible useful impact. With this command you can easily and rapidly create backup copies of specific files or of file groups on an SD card or an external hard disk.
Quit the editor. Now you can continue your tests of the PC DOS environment.
Now try scrolling functions.
You can use the key "cursor upwards" to get back to your command line history. So you can repeat former commands.
(You can use the cursor keys LEFT / RIGHT to modify a former command line.)
The ugly black background, no evident scrolling feature ... a bit deceiving?
The default black background of this window - this was required in the stone age of computing. At that time, the old big monitor monsters had to be used. They loosed their display quality in screen locations being permanently white. Initially, protective screen savers against this risk were not yet in use.
In addition, like on a TV screen, you could only view the last received text display. Initially there was no way to scroll back to the past.
Microsoft did not decide to set the defaults to some tolerable modern layout. We will show you now how to do what Microsoft decided not to do for you... because:
You can instantly re-configure all this up to the level of current computing.
Click in the left upper corner of the window. There opt for "Properties".
COLORS: Now you can configure the background to white, the script to black.
SCRIPT SIZE: You can opt for script type and script size.
DISPLAY BUFFER: You can opt for a huge virtual external buffer. Typically, you will opt for a significant vertical buffer: This means, you can use the mouse for scrolling and viewing the past display.
WINDOW: You can define a bigger satisfactory window size. You can define the default window location.
Now you need to know the complete PC-DOS instruction set. Do a Google search or Bing search for:
DOS commands set
(in German:) DOS Befehle
(in French:) montre moi DOS commandes
A list of the complete basic command set is here:
(Last updated probably in 1994 when MS-DOS 6.22 was released.)
When Microsoft tried to fight the battle against better past "DR-DOS" from a competitor, 1990 or so, the command set was extended.
When Microsoft wanted users to stop the use of PC-DOS and to move to the use of MS-Windows, 1993 and later, the command set was reduced. Another and valid reason for such a reduction is for functions which relied on old hardware standards.
The state shown above probably reflects the final state. For reasons of backwards compatibility for professional users, there is good reason to maintain stability of functionalities.
How to approach the DOS command set to LINUX?
There is no basic difficulty to add the basic functions of the UNIX (or LINUX) environment to this DOS environment. There were and are various software libraries for creating such an extension. So if you are a LINUX user and if you do not want to learn the DOS command set, look for such a package.
Basically, such packages apply for an added command one of the following strategies:
Either it is possible to derive the new command simply by a combination of DOS commands (called a batch file, a shell script or whatever).
Or it is required to add an executable "true" software program for functionalities which can not be constructed in the easy manner.
Call the built-in help functions just by adding: /?
This will work for close to all of the commands listed above. Example:
So you have the required software how-to information within seconds. You do not need 10 or more minutes of searching for help information, like nowadays. The many years of Microsoft progress in computing, do not say that nothing changed.
Remark: Such built-in help functions are the past power concept.
Once upon a time, in the middle ages of computing, there was no public Internet. Consequently, resellers of hardware and software had no right to oblige users to waste hours of time when searching omitted key information on the Internet.
There was even no right to deliver first very faulty products and to rectify this during the following years by on-line updates. It was a terrible time for manufacturers: Products and software had to work properly before selling them. Even worse for software manufacturers: Helpful information had to be complete, too, and had to accompany the product.
Once upon a time, for this help information, we did not yet have .pdf files and even not yet .html files (for structured handbooks). We just had in the best case short or long text files, typically named README.TXT or README.DOC. This was not very helpful for look-up purposes.
Consequently, it was a good concept and idea at that time to supply with each command and utility the helpful key information. Once upon a time.
The window optimization will perhaps not work like described above for MS-Windows versions older than MS-Windows 2000.
We do not supply recommendations for this special and rarely needed purpose.
A possible strategy would be to start an FTP session on the interactive level, then using DOS commands, preceded by a "!". In the past there was a complete instruction for doing so as part of this document. This has been disabled since July 2012 for better clarity.
Evidently, this is the power tool to view and to do everything with the files and directories on your PC - instantly.
Only in case of space characters in directory or file names, you will need some special workarounds. We do not want to deal here with such details. Now you know the reason why it is still a bad habit to include space characters in file names or directory names. Many many bugs in current computing are just caused by this.
A good general rule is: If you can, try to stay away from software which applies space characters for its main directories.
It may happen that the update and/or backup tools will generate bugs in this case. (This is because some utilities still use the space character as checked delimiter instead of detecting the true file name length. Think for example of utilities to recover manually important user data after a hardware crash.)
Try to never place your own main data file archives and computing purposes in directories which include space characters in the directory names. This is valid even for the case of pre-implemented directories from Microsoft.
For the own choice of file names, a typical habit is to use the underscore character _ instead of the space character.
Anyway, it is a very risky habit to use the pre-implemented directories of operating systems for your major data packages.
As far as possible, own data should be stored in new own directories on the highest level, and not on the systems drive (like C: is). A typical far better solution is to use the partition ("drive") D: for your own files, like:
It is far better to use for own data external hard disks.
But you should be aware, for this case, that the USB connector and protocol system was not made for the reliability level required for this. A good habit is to disconnect such vital storage devices only when the computer is switched off. As this does not avoid all kind of such specific data integrity risks, you should in addition take care to make frequent backup copies to a different storage device.
For external hard disks, the better chois is to use SATA drives.
You can buy on the net easily for a very low price a SATA cable which begins inside the PC and ends outside of the PC. The best is to have it as a combined cable (data and power supply) for branching easily a standard SATA hard disk. Be aware that it has to be connected before booting the PC, and that it should better only be disconnected after shutting down the PC.
You have stated an instant computer response for your commands on the PC-DOS level.
For many tasks, there is from now no need to waste your time with interactive mouse clicks. From now you can do many operation types on your PC within seconds which otherwise might require minutes.
From now, MS-Windows is at least on this level for you as powerful like LINUX is. Your are not any more member of a consumer level herd under Microsoft dictatorship. You have become a free man or woman - at least related to your PC.
Did you note that we never used the single word "Windows" but only the combined expression "MS-Windows"?
Microsoft succeeded to occupy as a product brand a universal single word from spoken language and in prior widespread use. (For legal and linguistic reasons, we should not apply here the expression "stolen").
Everybody who uses just the expression "Windows" instead of "MS-Window", is taking part in the toleration of this incredible constellation. There is no obligation and no law to use "Windows" instead of "MS-Windows".
You can instantly try one of them because it belongs to the always present built-in functionalities.
When being within the PC DOS environment,
then type: _ edit.com
Now you are in a file editor in the style like used since 1983 or so. It is on the user interface level of 1990 or so. This is nice to edit clean text files .txt.
Perhaps UTF - like utf8 - will not be supported. At that time, multi-language computing was not yet standardized. We did not check if Microsoft perhaps upgraded this old editor for UTF compatibility.
The current MS-Windows environment includes a modern text editor. You can use it while having an open window for PC DOS. It is not recommended to use instead edit.com. This old software was only named as an example how to run old programs of the type "xxx.com".
Now please spread the message - in forums, blogs etc. - so that Microsoft will become aware of it.
We are waiting for the day that Microsoft will perhaps switch off this feature within the next system updates.
This might be considered as a retro-actice artificial value reduction of a paid and delivered product. For new versions it might be considered as an artificial value reduction based an a monopoly holder status.
US lawyers specialized in class action disputes will probably study these lines with much care. The European EU Commission would be interested, too, in the case of such artificial value reduction by a monopoly holder.
Everything on a PC is accompanied by risks. The major risks are software bugs, badly protected systems, privacy violation and so on.
We do not know if the here recommended functionality can produce any risk. We tested it, and all worked properly. The functionality is of a type which should not have major unexpected risks. But please be warned.
The general rule is: Back up your PC data files on some external device data frequently and especially before any test on the software level. Please be aware of the following rule, too: Backups are only under full protection when the backup device is disconnected from your PC.
For example, do the backup on a hard disk via USB. Then stop the USB connection, or end the PC session. Then disconnect physically the external device.
Backup devices should not be in permanent connection physical and cable with the PC. They should be placed in metal boxes, in a location where - in case of a fire - temperature would not exceed approximately 50 degree Celsius (hence the maximum temperature of tropical areas of the world).
There should be no unexpected problems with the built-in functions, hence the PC-DOS functions.
For legal reasons, no other use is recommended here. But it is supposed that all programs of the type xxxx.com will run properly, as far as they do not need an install procedure. With the same restricition, programs xxx.exe will probably also do no harm.
If programs include install procedures, many of them will modify configuration data of the Microsoft system. The problem is that this system has grown over the years from a very unprotected low level system to the current state. The current state is a much improved state, but not a perfect state.
Microsoft never succeeded to protect the internal configuration layer in a satisfactory manner from the lazy programming style of low qualification programmers. As soon as you want to standardize program interaction already on the operating system level - like useful for scanners, printers, audio functions and much more - , you have to allow application software programmers to write their participation information into the corresponding registries.
Given the evolution path of MS-WINDOWS during so many years, the problem is much increased. This is the price to pay for the high level backwards compatibility of the Microsoft system. This backwards compatibililiy as such is an exceptional value. No other system on the market follows so much this old IBM principle of professional computing. This backwarcds compatibility belongs to the major merits of Microsoft.
Typically problems can be expected for old hardware - before 2000 and older - and the corresponding utilities.
Problems are to expect for all hardware which is automatically activated for many programs, like scanners, printers, fax equipment. The problem risk is not the question if it will work. The problem risk is that the possibly included modifications of configuration files might disturb the MS operating system. - For hardware since the year 2000 or so, these risks are under better control.
Problems can also be expected for other programs with direct addressing of computer functions (speed optimisation)...
like graphics tools and powerful graphic games. The main risk is for this case group, too, not the question if it will work. If an older software does not run, you will state this, and the matter is closed. The main risk is that the program possibly by-passes the protective system layer which has been created in the meantime.
If you would limit your use to the pre-implemented functions of PC-DOS, this as such would be a very satisfactory benefit of the method described in this document.
This usage level is covered by the Microsoft quality engagement. More than this is not recommended by this current text.
If you want to exploit more than this, please be aware of the risk level like describer in this text. Please always back up your data and software before any feature test on a computer. Please do not use a production environment for tests. Do not use a computer needed for business for any testing purpose above the pre-implemented functionalities.
Disclaimers have to be perfect disclaimers... On our own PCs, of course, we do not respect the usage resctrictions recommended here above. But we, too, would never use a vital own main computer for any software test.
As for early 2010 : The following Website is one of the best resources for using the better old stuff:
This current page was just made for a short tricky information how to master the access barrier to these better PC-DOS tools from the past. On computerhope.com you can learn extended knowledge how to apply these extended features.
Comment from a German reader: I am using Total Commander.
This is free software and is to be considered as the true successor of the former Norton Commander. I can within Total Commander easily access all PC-DOS commands by opting +++ as follows:
--- +++"Commands" (German: "Befehle")
--- +++"Starting DOS" (German: "DOS starten")
(hopeful that we added the proper English language translation of these commands)
The reader message continues:
Only a small subset of the past DOS command set is helpful. Most of the supplied functionalities can be obtained in an easier manner from within Total Commander.
Many thanks for this information.
It is very helpful to add here this alternate solution. It is internally and within Total Commander perhaps and probably based on a similar approach. There is no difficulty for a programmer to implement such a functionality in a tool set. A simple call by a batch file to the hidden PC-DOS environment could do the job.
On the other hand, most MS-Windows users do not install external software on their PC. Some feel unable for doing so, some hesitate because they fear security risks, some just do not want to apply time for this.
The more direct method - like explained on this information page - is also helpful for Linux users.
For occasional out-of-office computing a netbook is efficient. For this job, the pre-implemented MS-Windows is good enough and has a satisfactory level of functionalities "out of the box". In this case it can be useful:
further useful information / similar topics
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