Difference Between DOS and Windows

Operating System (OS) is software that works like a mediator. The inputs are provided by the user and the operating system conveys them to the system hardware or other software to produce the desired output. Since the invention of the computer in the early nineteenth century, Operating Systems have been developed vigorously. Some commonly known OS are Unix, DOS, Linux and Windows.

DOS vs Windows

The main difference between DOS and Windows is that DOS is a lightweight operating system designed for small tasks whereas Windows is a multi-functioning operating system designed for big and multiple tasks. Also, DOS is a Command Line Interface (CLI), it doesn’t have a Graphical User Interface (GUI). On the other hand, Windows has both GUI and CLI.

DOS vs Windows

DOS stands for Disk Operating System. Only a single user can use it to perform one task at a time. It was first released on 12 August 1981 by Microsoft under the name of MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). Due to the reason that DOS was released in early times, it didn’t have many features as compared to the operating systems that were released later.

Windows is probably the most common operating system. Released by Microsoft on 20 November 1985, Windows was initially a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS. But since then, it has been developed into a multi-user and multi-tasking operating system which can perform multiple tasks at fast speeds.

Comparison Table Between DOS and Windows

Parameters of ComparisonDOSWindows
Released on12 August 198120 November 1985
Type of interface offeredCommand-line interface (CLI)Both command line and graphical interface
Power consumptionDOS consumes less powerWindows consumer more power
Networking supportDoesn’t support networkingSupports networking
Usage complexityComplex to use due to CLIEasy to use due to GUI (Graphical User Interface)
Type of taskingSingle-taskingMulti-tasking
No. of user allowedSingle userMulti-user
Memory ConsumptionConsumer less memoryConsumes more memory
Need of pointing device (mouse, light pen, etc.)No pointing device neededPointing devices can be used
Multimedia (music/videos/games) supportNot supportedSupported
PopularityDOS is less popularWindows is more popular
Owned byDOS is an acronym for all the disk-based operating systems like MS-DOS, PC DOS, etc.Windows is owned by Microsoft

What is DOS?

DOS is an operating system created with a command-line interface (CLI) to allow a single user to work on a single task at a time. It doesn’t support multitasking or the sharing of system data between different users. It is a single-user OS, which means that it can only be used by one user, namely the system administrator. But that doesn’t mean other people can’t use the same computer, it simply means that other people can’t log in with another user ID; they will have to use the ID of the system admin.

Tim Paterson, a developer at Seattle Computer Products (SCP) first programmed an OS for testing Intel’s 8086 CPU card. This framework was named Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS), but later it was made available under the name 86-DOS. 86-DOS was then allegedly bought by Microsoft for $50,000 and renamed as Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS). MS-DOS was released in the market in 1981, and within a year it was authorized to more than 70 companies. MS-DOS was provided as a framework that could make it easier for them to work with their machines. As a significantly old technology, DOS was designed to perform small tasks.

What is Windows?

The first Windows was solely created to provide a graphical shell to the existing MS-DOS operating system. The market for Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) was increasing and Microsoft published their software to make keep up in the market. Windows was launched on 20 November 1985; one year after Mac OS was launched.

Windows 1.0, the first version of Windows, was not a complete operating system. It was software that extended MS-DOS. The components included in Windows 1.0 were: Calendar, Calculator, Clock, Control Panel, Notepad, Paint, Terminal, Write and some others.

Microsoft distributes its trademarked Windows operating systems under different names called “families”. These families are aimed to provide services to specific sub-industries of the computing world. For example, Windows NT is the family name for operating systems that are designed for server computers and workstations. The Windows IoT is an OS that was developed with the sole purpose of powering embedded devices. Other families are Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. These three families were discontinued for one reason or the other. Due to the reason that it is used for multitasking, Windows consumes a lot of memory and power.

Main Differences Between DOS and Windows

  1. DOS is a single user and single-tasking operating system whereas Windows is a multi-user and multi-tasking operating system.
  2. DOS is an acronym for any disk-based operating system and it is not a registered trademark. On the other hand, Windows is owned by Microsoft and is a registered trademark.
  3. DOS is more complex to use than Windows due to the reason that it only offers a command line interface whereas Windows offer Graphical User Interface (GUI).
  4. DOS doesn’t support multimedia playback or networking which is the reason why it’s not popular today. On the other hand, Windows supports both networking and multimedia and is quite popular.
  5. DOS was released in August 1981 whereas Windows was released in November 1985.


Several operating systems are now flying in the market with different features, but they were all born through DOS in one way or the other. DOS might not be a suitable operating system for today, but back in the day it was the best technology that was developed. It would be safe to say that DOS is the godfather of all the existing operating systems.

To summarize, DOS stands for Disk Operating System. It is a single-user and single-tasking operating system. The first DOS OS was launched by Microsoft in 1981 called MS-DOS. Windows is a trademarked OS launched by Microsoft in 1985. It is a multi-user and multi-tasking OS.


  1. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
  2. http://www.gannman.x10host.com/Portfolio/WindowsGUIEvol.pdf
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