MS-DOS stands in short for MicroSoft Disk Operating System and is an operating system made available to the wide general public by Microsoft. Microsoft is not the creator of a DOS operating system, but rather it is the company that took the lead in commercialization of one of the operating systems from the DOS family.
MS-DOS was the most commonly used member of the DOS family of operating systems and was the dominant operating system for the PC compatible platform during the 1980s.
Since the 80's, it has gradually been replaced on desktop computers by various generations of the Windows operating system.
MS-DOS was originally released in 1981 and had eight major versions released before Microsoft stopped development in 2000. It was the key product in Microsoft's growth from a programming languages company to a diverse software development firm.
MS-DOS also provided the platform on which early versions of Windows ran. Windows 98 and earlier used 16-bit version of MS-DOS. Windows NT can run MS-DOS programs through the use of the NTVDM (NT Virtual DOS Machine). Windows NT also include the 16-bit command.com interpreter from MS-DOS 5.0 to maintain application compatibility with programs that still need DOS.
Recent versions of NT for x64 architectures, including Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 x64 and Windows Vista x64, no longer include the NTVDM and can therefore no longer natively run MS-DOS (or 16-bit Windows) applications.
How to access MS-DOS
You can access the MS-DOS interface even in today's Windows XP by going to Start menu -> Run -> type CMD (command prompt).
List of commands
Below you can find a list of MS DOS commands:
ASSOC Displays or modifies file extension associations.
AT Schedules commands and programs to run on a computer.
ATTRIB Displays or changes file attributes.
BREAK Sets or clears extended CTRL+C checking.
CACLS Displays or modifies access control lists (ACLs) of files.
CALL Calls one batch program from another.
CD Displays the name of or changes the current directory.
CHCP Displays or sets the active code page number.
CHDIR Displays the name of or changes the current directory.
CHKDSK Checks a disk and displays a status report.
CHKNTFS Displays or modifies the checking of disk at boot time.
CLS Clears the screen.
CMD Starts a new instance of the Windows command interpreter.
COLOR Sets the default console foreground and background colors.
COMP Compares the contents of two files or sets of files.
COMPACT Displays or alters the compression of files on NTFS partitions.
CONVERT Converts FAT volumes to NTFS. You cannot convert the current drive.
COPY Copies one or more files to another location.
DATE Displays or sets the date.
DEL Deletes one or more files.
DIR Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.
DISKCOMP Compares the contents of two floppy disks.
DISKCOPY Copies the contents of one floppy disk to another.
DOSKEY Edits command lines, recalls Windows commands, and creates macros.
ECHO Displays messages, or turns command echoing on or off.
ERASE Deletes one or more files.
EXIT Quits the CMD.EXE program (command interpreter).
FC Compares two files or sets of files, and displays the differences between them.
FIND Searches for a text string in a file or files.
FINDSTR Searches for strings in files.
FOR Runs a specified command for each file in a set of files.
FORMAT Formats a disk for use with Windows.
FTYPE Displays or modifies file types used in file extension associations.
GOTO Directs the Windows command interpreter to a labeled line in a batch program.
GRAFTABL Enables Windows to display an extended character set in graphics mode.
HELP Provides Help information for Windows commands.
IF Performs conditional processing in batch programs.
LABEL Creates, changes, or deletes the volume label of a disk.
MD Creates a directory.
MKDIR Creates a directory.
MODE Configures a system device.
MORE Displays output one screen at a time.
MOVE Moves one or more files from one directory to another directory.
PATH Displays or sets a search path for executable files.
PAUSE Suspends processing of a batch file and displays a message.
POPD Restores the previous value of the current directory saved by PUSHD.
PRINT Prints a text file.
PROMPT Changes the Windows command prompt.
PUSHD Saves the current directory then changes it.
RD Removes a directory.
RECOVER Recovers readable information from a bad or defective disk.
REM Records comments (remarks) in batch files or CONFIG.SYS.
REN Renames a file or files.
RENAME Renames a file or files.
REPLACE Replaces files.
RMDIR Removes a directory.
SET Displays, sets, or removes Windows environment variables.
SETLOCAL Begins localization of environment changes in a batch file.
SHIFT Shifts the position of replaceable parameters in batch files.
SORT Sorts input.
START Starts a separate window to run a specified program or command.
SUBST Associates a path with a drive letter.
TIME Displays or sets the system time.
TITLE Sets the window title for a CMD.EXE session.
TREE Graphically displays the directory structure of a drive or path.
TYPE Displays the contents of a text file.
VER Displays the Windows version.
VERIFY Tells Windows whether to verify that your files are written correctly to a disk.
VOL Displays a disk volume label and serial number.
XCOPY Copies files and directory trees.
You can get this listing in the MS-DOS interface by typing HELP at the command prompt.