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DOS Shell is a file manager, debuted in MS-DOS and IBM PC DOS v4.0 (June 1988). It was discontinued in MS-DOS v6.0, but remained part of the "Supplemental Disk" until v6.22 (the last independent retail version of MS-DOS). It was, however, retained in PC DOS through PC DOS 2000.
The shell includes common features seen in other file managers such as copying, moving and renaming files as well as the ability to "launch" applications with a double-click. The shell could be run by the command "
dosshell". It had the ability to set simple colours and styles. The shell was one of the first successful attempts to create a basic graphical user interface (GUI) type file manager in DOS, although it is properly referred to as a text user interface (TUI) or Character Oriented Window (COW) even though graphical modes were available on supported hardware (VGA equipped PCs). The shell is very much like a DOS version of Windows File Manager.
The shell also has a help system, "program list", and a "task swapper". Like modern file managers it had the ability to display dual hierarchy directory and file lists, i.e. left and right panes. The mouse was supported, however, like any other DOS application, it required an appropriate device driver.
One feature was the ability to list all files on a hard drive in a single alphabetized list along with the path and other attributes. This permitted the user to compare versions of a file in different directories by their attributes and easily spot duplicates.
DOS Shell was incapable of full multitasking. It supported rudimentary task switching; it could switch between programs running in memory, at the cost of performance hit. However, all the running programs had to fit into conventional memory area, as there was no support for paging to disk. (Programs with DOS extenders such as DOS/4GW were immune to this issue as DOS/4GW spared conventional memory from overflow.)
In time, Windows 3.1x, with its own graphical user interface, became much more popular among computer users. Windows was capable of multitasking. System performance was much higher, with complete access to the system's memory.