About DOS and Batch Files


In the beginning, there were several Operating Systems, but when IBM selected MS DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), as the only one for its computers, MS DOS quickly became the industry standard, and the rest (as they say) is history. Of course, there are still a few other competing Operating Systems "out there", like the Apple/Macintosh and Unix, but Microsoft, with its multitude of OSs (by my count, at least nine), with the many different versions of each, is by far the dominant one. Other independent platforms, like Tandy and Commodore, went the way of the dinosaur.

Only a short while after IBM made MS DOS the OS of choice, Microsoft quickly began playing catch-up to Apple, who already had a "windows-type" graphical user interface (GUI) OS. Until this time, DOS, with its complex commands and somewhat bland interface, was the industry standard. However, the Apple GUI was a definite threat, so MS DOS quickly imitated Apple and thus, the Windows 3.x series came onto the scene.

With the advent of Windows 95 and beyond, however, Microsoft renamed the former DOS directory in 3.x (where all the DOS command programs were stored) to the Command directory in Win95 and hid it away in the Windows directory to try to begin weaning users off it. (At least, that's my take on it.) The withdrawal symptoms were horrible, but the TRUE techies quickly found the old DOS command programs and continue to use them to this day.

Now, I'm not claiming to be a TRUE techie, but I still have a fondness for playing around with the complexity of the old DOS command programs. There's something exhilarating about going back to the old DOS basics and executing code through such means as batch files, so that's why I've included this segment in the Software Programming section of my Techno Stuff area.

Batch Files

Batch files are files which contain DOS commands for automating certains tasks, such as starting or ending an executable program, or sorting, copying, deleting text, files, or directories (folders). Batch files always have the .BAT file extension.

If you perform certain tasks regularly, you can write a batch file which automates these tasks for you so all you have to do is type the name of the batch file at the DOS prompt or in the Run command box on the Start menu to automatically perform them. For more details on how to write batch files, go to the How to Create and Use Batch Files page.