Operating systems

Dinosaur Sightings: Installing MS-DOS 4

By Greg Shultz

In June of 1988, Microsoft released MS-DOS 4.0, but it got off to a rocky start due to that fact that is was quite buggy and suffered from compatibility issues with many applications. In December of 1988, Microsoft released MS-DOS 4.01, which fixed the bugs and compatibility problems.

Despite its initial problems, MS-DOS 4 introduced a number of new technologies including XMS support, support for hard disk partitions of up to 2 GB and featured the first native graphical shell.

In this screenshot gallery, I will walk you through the MS-DOS 4 installation procedure, which is interesting because it is powered not by the more familiar Setup program, but an earlier incarnation called the Select program.

MS-DOS 4 was the last operating system to use the Select program for installation. (MS-DOS 5.0 was the first operating system to use the Setup program, for its installation.)

Another interesting aspect of this vintage installation is that the Select program's Welcome screen begins by asking you if you want to install the operating system on a fixed disk or floppy disks and then lists the number of blank floppies you need to have on hand for the installation. Hard disks were expensive and many computers at that time only came with floppy disk drives.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

9 comments
fiosdave
fiosdave

Just for kicks, I would love to run one of my early copies of CP/M or DOS. I have one game CD which I used for our daughter, when she was three and I would love to surprise her by running it now!

ProfTheory
ProfTheory

I called it Doss Hell for all the *.TMP files that it would leave on the HD.

darkmoonman
darkmoonman

Unless you already run a VM, I suggest that you try running the game via an installation of DOSBox 0.74

Rick_R
Rick_R

I can't imagine why anyone would want to install MS-DOS 4, but just in case someone wasn't around then ... Microsoft originally planned on stopping DOS at version 3.3. IBM came out with PC-DOS 4 which had a better interface. Lots of users were setting it up to run on non-IBM machines. Eventually MS licensed **IBM's** version basically unaltered. IT HAD HUGE PROBLEMS! IBM did a massive rewrite that introduced all sorts of bugs. The software was SO bad that many third-party vendors said they would not support use of their software on DOS 4. It caused system crashes, damage to the file system and all sorts of catastrophes. If you need to use some form of DOS, either use 3.3 or 5 or 6.

steve
steve

Amazing... We wrote programs back then that used MSDOS 3.1 and Novell Advanced Netware 1.0 for producing multi-user versions of the application for small businesses in the jewelry market. It used two 5-1/4" floppies. The a: floppy drive contained the program and the inventory and the second b: drive was used to read and write to a set of floppies that contained the supplier and customer transactions. Fantastic that we could do so much with such limited computer capacity...

fiosdave
fiosdave

I am running several VMs under Win7 Ultimate. I may try your suggestion, however. Thanks, Dave

kickie10
kickie10

I'm having trouble with my command prompt, so I'd like to get an older version, because I'd imagin they're easier to manage. Hacker 3, Out!!

tronman
tronman

As my AMIGA!!! Workbench 1.3 was graphical from the start, and had a spiffy shell built right in. It could multitask well, and curiosly, it's incarnation of Microsoft Basic was the most advanced thing Microsoft had ever made up to that point. Sort of a Great Grandpa of Visual Basic, you could write your basic code in one window, and run it in the one next to it. Pretty cool, actually. I always kinda wished MS had kept making that BASIC later into the Amiga's life. However, this is still a great little piece of PC computer history :-)

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

Is that a typo about support for a 2gbyte hard drive. As far as I know gigabytes came out in 1990's.....around 1996 for PCs.