How widely was MS-DOS used? Was it globally, or just in some specific places?

Were there any regional substitutes used more commonly, and if so, what were they?

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    I fear that this question will be too broad here as well. A question about DOS regions and localizations may be more on-topic. – JAL Feb 25 '18 at 23:55
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    Before Windows 95, MS-DOS had pretty much the role that Windows has today. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 26 '18 at 1:54
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    MS-DOS was independently a flagship PC OS from 1981 to 1995, so I think this would be broad based on time period alone, even without considering regions, localisations and architectures — Microsoft adapted it for several x86 machines that were not IBM compatible, hoping to be the new CP/M even before fully-compatible clones sort of did that for them. – Tommy Feb 26 '18 at 4:32
  • This question is a bit too broad, maybe narrow it down to one question? – mnem Feb 26 '18 at 9:45
  • Interesting related read (from 1989): books.google.se/… - especially chapter 7 – tofro Feb 26 '18 at 10:11

As mentioned by Tommy, MS-DOS (or PC-DOS on IBM computers) was the default operating system for x86 PCs from 1981 to 1995 (and still widely used for a few years after that). Early versions were also adapted by OEMs to run on hardware which wasn’t quite IBM-compatible. As such, it was used pretty much everywhere PCs were used, whether it supported the local customs or not — many users around the world made do with an English-based computing environment, even if English wasn’t their native language.

MS-DOS itself ended up supporting a variety of localisations natively, but some markets had their own versions — examples include Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese (with the DOS/V effort), and Russian. The Japanese market in particular was quite different from the US-based DOS market, with a different “standard” for computers (PC-98) and specific software.

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  • My first job as a programmer, I had a Zenith Z-100 (I think) and it had the unique capability of dual boot, and dual processor! It had a Z-80 processor you could boot to CP/M and an 8088 (or 86?) processor you could boot to Z-DOS. Zenith even had their own ZBASIC flavor of MS-BASIC. We had a wide variety of non-IBM compatibles, like Televideo, etc., that ran MS-DOS but I believe Zenith was the only one that had it's own labelled version. – Bill Hileman Feb 26 '18 at 16:28
  • You're forgeting about CP/M86 which was quite successful and it's follow up DOS-Plus, for example preinstalled with Amstrad PC1512 and several other machines. – Raffzahn Oct 6 '18 at 21:00

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