What is DOS?
|A screenshot of an MS-DOS directory.|
DOS, or Disk Operating System, once dominated the IBM PC market. At the turn of the millennium it fell into decline and has since become one of the lesser-used functions of many modern operating systems.
The DOS experience
The term DOS can refer to any operating system, but it most often refers to MS-DOS for Microsoft Windows. It was originally developed for IBM by Microsoft in 1981 as the standard operating system for IBM personal computers. It offers a command-line interface and analogs common to the Unix operating system. The DOS experience can quite simply be described as a black screen with a single blinking cursor for the command line. Users then type in specific commands to access files and perform functions
The initial version of DOS was designed quite simply, though through the years it has become increasingly sophisticated as computer operating system features were incorporated. However, DOS is still a 16-bit operating system and doesn’t support the major features common to modern computers like multitasking and multiple users.
The decline of DOS
With the invention of Windows and other desktop-based operating systems, DOS has faded in overall use and importance. Many functions needed to use modern operating systems can be done simply through the graphical interface provided.
While you may not have ever used DOS, specific functions are best performed in this system as opposed to a graphical interface. This includes functions like formatting a hard drive, restoring backed up files to a specific directory and checking internal statuses like system errors.
Despite these functions, DOS is insufficient for many modern computer applications. Microsoft Windows and other operating systems have effectively alleviated many problems, though as late as Windows 98 it still relied on DOS to some extent. Modern versions like Windows 8 no longer use DOS, though they still offer emulators that simulate the DOS interface.
(Editor's Note: A distributed denial-of-service attack is commonly abbreviated as DDoS. For more information, see DDoS Attacks: What They Are, and How to Defend Against Them)