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Tech Software:
Some MS DOS Programs Still Clinging to Life Support
Posted 44 months ago on 2/12/2018 and updated 11/8/2020
Take Away:

This article talks about how you can still run old MS DOS based software on the newer Windows and the pitfalls that come with it.


In the age of Windows 7,8 and 10, one would assume that MS DOS custom software would be a thing of the past - or is it? I kid you not, I still have three customers using MS DOS programs as I write this article. Two of them use virtual machines on Windows 7 and 8 and a third uses one on Windows XP. The Windows XP MS DOS application has been partially redesigned into two distinct C# programs. It is transitioning to a modern Windows programming environment. And there is yet a fourth customer using MS DOS based “SBT Accounting” to reference old invoices and a customer database used for a customized snail mail campaign, even though they have transitioned over to Windows based Quickbooks POS.

Why do folks stick with the MS DOS dinosaurs you may be wondering? There are a number of reasons:

Inertia: They are used to MS DOS and Windows XP and they are resistant to change.

They won’t spend the money to have a Windows based program created.

They need it to reference old data from the past that is still being used for various business functions even though they may already have transitioned over to a modern Windows based system.

They think it is still OK to run on Windows XP even though you can’t get security updates for XP any longer.

They think just because they can run MS DOS programs in a virtual machine like “Oracle VirtualBox” that they don’t need to upgrade to a Windows based system. (FYI: the virtual machine is the IT world’s way of saying to you that the MS DOS based software hour glass is almost out of sand. Yes, don’t be surprised if one day a future version of Windows will not run virtual machines anymore!)

Running MS DOS programs nowadays is tantamount to skating on thin ice. And yes, the virtual machines will still do it for you on the newer versions of Windows, but it tends to involve a little more work along with the attendant quirks of running the software in a virtual environment. And even when you are running MS DOS clunker programs in a virtual machine, there is yet another problem: How easy will it be to find qualified people who can troubleshoot problems in these old programs when they occur?

If you are still using MS DOS software, then you need to look at it as a step to transitioning over to a modern Windows based system. A lax attitude about this is not recommended, because sooner or later it will catch up with you.


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