Problems running DOS applications in Windows?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Recall --

Yesterday, Infopackets Reader Don R. asked if I had any suggestions for running old DOS programs in a Windows environment. In my response, I provided some links to sites with helpful DOS / Windows information (especially for games), but then asked Infopackets Readers for additional info.

DOS-enthusiast Mike K. writes:

" You're welcome to 'steal' anything useful from my website ( In particular, you might take a very quick look at LesSpace, PatchCRT, and some long-winded notes on running 'Old-Apps' in newer OSes and PCs. If you or any of your Readers have queries on the content of the site, I'll be glad to respond. "

Retired Techie Keith B. writes:

" Old DOS setups used special configuration files 'Autoexec.bat' and 'Config.sys' (located in the root directory of the C drive). If you recall, DOS was original designed on the basis that '640k of memory ought to be enough for everybody' (according to Bill Gates).

However, applications became bigger, and so did the need for system memory. EMM386.exe was a program that allowed DOS applications to use Upper Memory Blocks (UMB) and exceed the 640k barrier; this was relatively simple to set up for Win95 / 98 / 98SE / ME systems (by editing autoexec.bat and config.sys), however, Windows XP now uses autoexec.NT and config.NT located in the Windows\system32 folder.

By adding text file, we can apply these settings for DOS mode. First, click Start -> Run -> type in 'CMD' (no quotes) and press Enter. In the DOS window, type in "edit %systemroot%\system32\config.nt" and paste the following lines at the bottom of the file:

  • dos=high, umb
  • device=%SystemRoot%\system32\himem.sys
  • files=40

Press ALT + F, then save the file; close the DOS window and launch again. This time, type in 'Mem' (note quotes) at the command line and press Enter to see your existing memory. My XP shows 655360 bytes Total Conventional memory, 655360 bytes available to MS-DOS, 632656 bytes Largest Executable Program, and 941056 bytes available XMS memory. These figures should be enough for any DOS program to run. "

And, Infopackets Reader Barbara W. asks:

" I have a program I use for our small business. I've never been able to find another like it. I can't get it to print or use our logo until I tell it 'this is the default printer', every time. A small price to pay. But it did take me a while to figure it out. "

My response:

This is sounds like normal DOS behavior, and it's because DOS applications don't utilize printer drivers like Windows does. The difference being that Windows remembers your printer driver of choice because every program you run revolves around the Windows environment. DOS, on the other hand, didn't have such an interface, and therefore, many DOS applications had to bundle printer 'drivers' of their own (which is why you need to select it each and every time). This is especially true if the application you're using doesn't allow you to save Printer Driver preference.

Thanks to all who wrote in.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet