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Difference Between DOS and Windows

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 DOS stands for Disk Operating System, which is an operating system that was popular till 1995 in the IBM PCs. It is a single-tasking OS i.e., it can perform one task at a time. It is based on a command-line interface where we have to provide instruction to the computer in commands form. It runs from hard disks,floppy disk or any other storage devices and thus provides an environment for the execution of programs. It occupies less memory.To use more than 64kb of memory,memory extenders were used, which older Windows used to use more memory.It was originally released only to OEMs(Original Equipment Manufacturers) who added support for their hardware, it was eventually release to public.

Features of DOS:

  • Command Line Interface: DOS is primarily a command-line operating system, which means that users must type commands to perform operations.
  • Small Size: DOS is a very small operating system, which makes it easy to install on computers with limited storage space.
  • Low Resource Usage: DOS has a very small memory footprint, which makes it ideal for use on computers with limited memory.
  • Compatibility: Many old applications and games were designed to run on DOS, and it can be used to run them even on modern systems.


Windows is a product of Microsoft, it is an operating system with various versions, Windows 10 being the latest version.It is the Graphics-Based user interface user give commands through clicking or choosing icons and images with the help of mouse,keyboard or touchscreen to the computer. Windows was originally a DOS extender running on top of DOS.The windows 9x family consisting of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98SE and Windows ME ran on top of MS-DOS and were capable to run DOS programs directly.Windows NT was released separately and is portable, and initially, it was written in C and C++ language where processor reliability code is separated into DAL and HLL and was designed to be more secure than DOS and Windows 9x family. Windows NT family includes Windows NT 3.x,4.x, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and so on. Windows is more reliable than DOS and handles errors with ease due to various tools available for debugging and error handling.

Features of Windows:

  • Graphical User Interface: Windows has a graphical user interface (GUI), which means that users can interact with the operating system using a mouse and a graphical interface.
  • Multitasking: Windows allows multiple applications to run simultaneously, with each application running in its own window.
  • Compatibility: Windows is compatible with a wide range of hardware and software, making it a versatile operating system.
  • Plug and Play: Windows supports plug and play, which means that hardware can be connected to a computer and automatically recognized and configured by the operating system.

Similarities between DOS and Windows:

  • Command Prompt: While Windows has a graphical user interface, it still has a command prompt that allows users to access the command line interface.
  • File System: Both DOS and Windows use the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system.
  • Applications: Many applications that were designed to run on DOS can also run on Windows, either natively or with the help of an emulator.
  • Compatibility: Both DOS and Windows have a high degree of compatibility with a wide range of hardware and software.



Below is a table of differences between DOS and Windows: 

TypeDOS is command line based OS, where instructions are given through commands.Windows is GUI based OS, where instructions are provided with the help of images and icons.
DriversThere was originally no concept of Drivers in the DOS.It was eventually introduced to provide support for various hardwareWindows makes use of Drivers to make the work easier.
Multi- taskingDOS doesn’t supports multi-tasking.DOS Extenders are used to provide more feature to DOS computers.Windows support multitasking.
ComplexityDOS is more complex and difficult to use.Windows is less complex and is easy to use.
Input SystemCommands through keyboard are provided as an input.Keyboard,mouse,touchscreen or any other input device can be used to provide the input to Windows.
Storage sizeHighest storage size that was made available is 2 GB.Windows support storage size up to 2 terabyte(MBR partition) and 64 zettabyte(GUID partition).
UsageDOS is not popular now and almost obsolete in use.FreeDOS is often bundled with some cheaper laptops.Windows is more popular and globally used desktop operating system.
PriceDOS is free and does not use licensing,(MS-DOS is abandonware now and FreeDOS is developed as an open source alternative)Windows is a paid software and requires license for activation.

Conclusion :

While both DOS and Windows are operating systems used in personal computing, they have significant differences in terms of user interface, multitasking, hardware support, file system, and application support. Windows is a more modern and feature-rich operating system compared to DOS and is better suited for modern computing devices. However, DOS is still used today in some legacy systems and applications that require a command-line interface.

Last Updated : 29 Mar, 2023
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