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Windows XP and MS-DOS

Hard as it is to believe, there are times when it makes sense to run plain old MS-DOS. Games are usually not the reason—most games that were designed back in the DOS days aren't able to cope with the blazing speed of today's processors. However, some people still have a need to use specialized hardware that works only under DOS, such as industrial control and hardware programming systems. The software for these devices often won't work when run from an XP Command Prompt window, because Windows won't give it the direct access to hardware that it needs. So, for occasional use, you may want to run MS-DOS to perform specialized tasks.

NOTE

In this section, I'm going to talk about ways to boot your computer under DOS, so that Windows isn't running at all. You might be able to run your MS-DOS program in an emulator, that is, a program that mimics a PC running DOS. This may let you run games and old DOS software without going to the trouble of booting up DOS itself, but probably won't help you with old hardware issues, unless you can extend the emulator, (The open-source DOSBOX emulator could be a candidate for extension.) For a discussion of emulators, see the end of this chapter.



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