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Given the very small size of DOS, it would seem it might still be ideal for some applications such as handheld games. Is any system manufacturer still shipping DOS with their machine?

If no one is shipping DOS, when was the last shipment?

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    How do you define "DOS"? – Mawg Feb 5 '18 at 13:30
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    By "OS" do you mean "OEM"? – deltab Feb 5 '18 at 17:13
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    I don't know the answer, but if it helps you arrive at a conclusion based on continued usage of DOS, I can tell you that a substantial proportion of Indian schools teach C++ using a compiler called "Turbo C++", and a version of that compiler from the mid-1980s. The students install an MS-DOS emulator to run it, because there is no other way to do so. I'm not kidding. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 5 '18 at 23:25
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    I don't mean MS DOS. – wizzwizz4 Feb 6 '18 at 8:10
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    There's quite a few operating systems, including embedded-level ones, that borrow DOS's notion of drive letters (which itself borrowed from CP/M), such as Symbian, etc. – LawrenceC Feb 6 '18 at 13:25
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I’m not sure about OS manufacturers, but hardware manufacturers still use DOS, in at least two scenarios visible to the general public:

  • firmware upgrade CD images;
  • bare-bones enterprise laptop and workstation setups (e.g. from HP or Lenovo, “bare-bones” as in “with FreeDOS as the only installed operating system”; in some countries you’ll need a business account to access these configurations).

In both cases, manufacturers tend to use FreeDOS rather than MS-DOS.

  • Sure, but do they ship any computer with DOS installed? – Raffzahn Feb 5 '18 at 10:25
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    Yes @Raffzahn, you can order certain systems from HP and Lenovo with FreeDOS installed (as the only operating system). – Stephen Kitt Feb 5 '18 at 10:36
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    FWIW, not only enterprise. Special offers to students by Lenovo also sometimes(?) use FreeDOS instead of other, more common OSes. – Jonas Schäfer Feb 5 '18 at 12:14
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    @StephenKitt the purpose of the stack is to build a knowledge database in the form of Q&A. It is perfectly fine to ask a question for which you know the answer beforehand. It is also encouraged to self-answer if you do the above. (and yes, I read your network profile before posting this, and you probably know the above. But joe lurker might not). – Mindwin Feb 5 '18 at 17:35
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    Presumably in almost all cases buyers just use the FreeDos OS to check that the machine works, if that, before installing their own choice of operating system to replace it. – bdsl Feb 6 '18 at 8:37
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Several major computer brands have devices, low end in particular but not only, which get sold with FreeDOS installed. This includes top players like HP and Lenovo — at some point even Dell offered it for their professional workstations.

FreeDOS is basically an open source DOS reimplementation of MS-DOS, but includes several modern updates, including the ability to run not only DPMI programs, but also (a subset of) Windows console applications.

In some countries the offer of a FreeDOS installation is available to the general public and used to scrap of even a bit more of their lowest priced machines. Availibility of this offer depends if there is a general contract with Microsoft about handling 'empty' PCs or not.

In other countries it's only available as part of some business plan for professional customers, but this time usually across all their professional systems. Here it's a way of avoiding double payment of the MS-Tax for institutional customers. Basically all computer manufactures have (at least in the US but also other countries) a contract with Microsoft that by default for every machine a Windows installation will be assumed - unless a different OS is installed. Installing no OS is terefore not an option. In that way, large scale customers who already have their own bulk licence agreement with Microsoft would have to pay twice for Windows. Thus pro forma FreeDOS installation on contract base does enable "bare hardware" deals again.

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    Here in Germany, the "Windows tax is not mandatory". Many (currently 559) laptops are sold on Amazon.de with FreeDOS installed. I buy them when I want a laptop on which to install Linux, without having to pay for Windows license which I will not use. – Mawg Feb 5 '18 at 13:29
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    @Mawg That's why all examples for Lenovo and HP end user offer point to German dealerships :) – Raffzahn Feb 5 '18 at 13:31
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    @mawg my pcs don't come with a windows tax. They come with a "well-built" tax and OS X. – Harper Feb 6 '18 at 5:49
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    In poorer countries it's very commonplace for private individuals to buy computers with FreeDOS (because it's cheaper), so they can install pirated Windows on them. – vsz Feb 6 '18 at 7:17
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    @hackerb9 it’s typically not sold (it’s free), it’s an option available for customers looking for a licence-free computer; I imagine the vast majority of customers install a replacement OS, Windows using their own volume licence, or Linux, or something else perhaps. I guess manufacturers provide FreeDOS for two reasons: one is to allow the system to be boot-tested, another is to ensure the device sold is “fit for purpose” (which is a requirement in some countries) — the customer can nominally switch the computer on and use it as-is (for some value of “use” of course). – Stephen Kitt Feb 6 '18 at 10:50
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As of today, the German price comparison website idealo.de lists 11 PC systems and 91 laptops that come with FreeDOS preinstalled, mainly from MSI, Lenovo, HP and ASUS. Not only cheap entry level machines, there are some more expensive gaming and business laptops among them as well..

5

Just to note, your question is about OS manufacturers shipping DOS with their machine. We also might have diferences on what 'machine' means, in this instance.

Also, for the purposes of this question, OS Manufacturers are not usually hardware manufacturers (Assuming we can agree Microsoft is an OS Manufacturer, but the existance of Xbox and Surface pro does not make MS a hardware manufacturer).

I'm in the warehousing industry and while there is a change underway to Andriod as the de facto Operating system of choice, there are plenty of legacy applications that still require DOS.

https://www.barcodesinc.com/cats/portable-data-terminals/Operating_System=DOS/page=1/

These devices are for sale with some kind of DOS. There are also devices from CipherLab and Honeywell that ship with DOS.

Alternatively, the OS itself can be downloaded: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/ms-dos-mobile/9nblgggxzdtw#

Dallas

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    I love Microsoft's description of MS-DOS from the download link you provided: All the productivity you’ve come to expect from Microsoft in the simplest OS yet. – hackerb9 Feb 6 '18 at 10:49
3

DePauw saws of Belguim use DOS in their control computers.

I've very recently seen brand new replacement computers running MS DOS 6. I don't know whether a brand new saw would still ship with a DOS machine.

Although brand new there are a number of retro features to the design, including ISA sockets, PS2 and DDR RAM. I suspect the hardware was designed some time ago.

2

In terms of useful software (rather than the FreeDOS use to get around contracts), Toshiba (formerly IBM) 4690 OS is still being shipped. It is an OS for Toshiba/IBM cash registers, and runs on descendants of Digital Research CP/M-86 and Concurrent DOS. The hardware it runs on is a PC and is Windows compatible.

1

This is a rather complicated question. To my knowledge, no PC OEM manufacturer have shipped DOS as a pre-installed OS on a mainstream, massively produced machine since the 90s. The other thing is refurbished PCs sold on auction sites such as eBay, Craigslist or similar - to avoid listing computers as working, but without an OS (which may induce smaller sales), they list them as working, with FreeDOS.

Besides not being pre-installed, there are still a lot of use cases for DOS even nowadays. You can still find DOS installed on checkout computers, newest of which are about 3-5 years old. Besides shops, also about 3 years ago most Polish health care computers ran DOS, which remains can still be seen in use of old and yellowed thermal printers.

0

In some cases, free (whether open source or just available legally with no payment) operating systems are installed on "blank" hardware to satisfy requirements in the licensing agreements of the OS that is to be actually installed on it. For example, some Windows versions under some licensing contracts were/are more expensive - or not available at all - as a non-upgrade version, while there is/was an upgrade version available that is a valid upgrade to a long list of eligible third party OSes (in some cases including free OSes).

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