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 PostPost subject: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:40 am 
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I've been unable to find a comprehensive account of the various ways MS-DOS was distributed, so I set out to write it myself. All of this may seem obvious to old-timers, but I've found a surprising amount of contradictory information on the subject. Personally, I've only used Packard Bell MS-DOS 5, so much of this was uncharted territory.

Disclaimer: While I aim to be factual, much of this is "independent research". I rely mostly on what I can determine from the Microsoft Knowledge Base, eBay listings, and the license agreements between Microsoft and Zenith for MS-DOS 5 and 6. I am also writing from the North American perspective. Please contribute better information if you have it, especially about the situation in Europe and Asia.

Before MS-DOS 3.2

Every copy of MS-DOS had to be adapted to a specific computer, and OEMs were wholly responsible for designing and manufacturing their own packaging, documentation, and media. Following in the tradition of the original IBM PC, many OEMs chose to deliver their MS-DOS floppies in binders together with their printed documentation.

MS-DOS 3.2 to MS-DOS 5

Microsoft began offering versions of MS-DOS to system builders as a packaged product to resell with their computers. This development followed the emergence of Phoenix BIOS and AMIBIOS, which enabled system builders to enter the market with IBM PC compatibles.

These products have the Microsoft logo printed on the packaging, together with the words: "Not for retail sale except with a computer system". Before MS-DOS 5, they were also labeled "For Personal Computers Compatible with IBM Personal Computers" on the front of the box. Some boxes also had a space on the front for the reseller to put a label with their name and telephone number for support purposes.

MS-DOS 3.2 came in a large box with two binders, but later versions moved to paperbacks and began a trend towards diminishing documentation. The OEM version of MS-DOS 5 had packaging very similar to the retail upgrade version, but remained for sale only with a computer system.

During this period, royalty OEMs such as Compaq continued to provide their own unique packaging, but others adopted packaging similar to Microsoft's. The terms of Microsoft's license agreement forbid OEMs from imitating Microsoft's trade dress though, so packages from the latter group never use exactly the same fonts and colors as Microsoft. OEMs are also required to feature their own logo prominently on the packaging, and they must never use Microsoft's logo.

After MS-DOS 5

For MS-DOS 6, Microsoft changed the terms of their license agreement with royalty OEMs. Under the new agreement OEMs could no longer reproduce or manufacture the software and documentation themselves, but instead had to go through an authorized replicator, who would enforce Microsoft's requirements. Alternatively, an OEM could purchase MS-DOS in an "easy distribution package" from authorized distributor, which was only available with Enhanced Tools.

Consequently, most copies of MS-DOS 6 are of the easy distribution package variety. These came shrink-wrapped with a user guide, certificate of authenticity, and registration card (but no box). The user guide is labeled "For sale/distribution only with a new PC," and the floppy disks have the Microsoft logo on them.

Floppy disks that came from an authorized replicator have the OEM's logo and part number on the label, and generally look distinct from floppies in the easy distribution package. On the other hand, copies of the documentation from an authorized replicator appear very similar to copies from the easy distribution package, just with the OEM's logo on the cover. This is because any changes to the documentation required advance written permission from Microsoft.

Royalty OEM Upgrade

The terms of Microsoft's license agreement permitted royalty OEMs to sell upgrades to MS-DOS. These had to be clearly labeled as an upgrade, and were only allowed to replace an existing copy of MS-DOS, having been sold together with the OEM's computer. The old copy of MS-DOS was supposed to be exchanged or destroyed upon purchase of an upgrade.

Retail Upgrade/Step-Up

Microsoft sold MS-DOS Upgrades 5, 6, 6.2, 6.21, and 6.22 at retail outlets in 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch formats, as well as MS-DOS Step-Ups 6.2 and 6.22 in both formats. In the Microsoft Knowledge Base, you can find a directory listing for each disk set in either format (plus the double density disk sets that were only available through fulfillment). These are the only versions of MS-DOS that made it to store shelves.

That's it. For detailed information on Microsoft's agreements with OEMs, see Plaintiff's Exhibit 2065, Comes v. Microsoft.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:37 am 
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A really good source of the computer industry to the end of last century might be had in "In Search of Stupidity" by Merrill R Chapman. It deals more with the marketing than the opcode.

MS-DOS 5

This is the last version of DOS that IBM and Microsoft shared the code for. It is also the DOS version used in the i386 versions of OS/2 and WinNT / Vista. It is the first major shrinkwrap DOS, designed to compete with DR-DOS.

MS-DOS 6

The OEM version is labeled 'MS-DOS and Additional Tools', while the upgrade is 'MS-DOS'. The upgrade includes the additional tools as well, but it was offered to the OEMs as two separate products. IBM did not buy the additional tools, instead including a back-version of CentrePoint tools.

Separate to the 'Additional Tools' is the 'Supplemental Disk'. These are various utilities that were withdrawn from version 6, but made available for users who wanted them. Some OEM versions have this as a fourth disk. The Aptiva that had dos 6.2 had this in a subdirectory c:\dos\dos5.

PC-DOS

PC-DOS 6 started as IBMDOS 6.0 (according to the manual), but this changed to IBMDOS 6.1, and then PC-DOS 6.1. The copies I have show IBMDOS 6.1 without disk compression, but supported the API, this was a four-disk distribution. This was rebranded to PC-DOS 6.1, with disk compression. The 6.3 upgrade converts 6.1 to 6.3.

In terms of a stepup, IBM did offer a stepup from 6.1 to 6.3, of this, I have only seen a Japanese version, and a reference to PCDOS613. It wasn't really advertised at the show which PC-DOS 6.3 was released.

PC-DOS 7,0 is the last release from Boca Raton, when IBM closed down the PCC operation. DOS 2000 is a rather disappointing release on six regular floppies, and a batch file that allows you to extract the same from the disk as a download. But they did bundle in a lot of interesting features that had fallen by the wayside (backup/restore from DOS 3 eg), as well as a command-line calculator! You really could turn your 1000$+ computer into a calculator!


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:48 pm 
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- os2fan2: There was actually a third variant of MS-DOS 6.00 - the OEM base edition. It was without DoubleSpace, DOS Shell, etc., and even had DoubleSpace-related stuff stripped from IO.SYS, COMMAND.COM, FORMAT.COM, etc.

Some files (specifically, the OEM base edition SETUP.EXE) in the MSDN sets of the "Danish", "Finnish", and "Norwegian" (which are all really English for their respective markets) versions of MS-DOS 6.22 lead me to believe that MS-DOS 6.22 too had an OEM base edition but the chances of finding a copy of it today are very low. I would suspect MS-DOS 6.20 also had an OEM base edition, but we don't have a MSDN file set of it. The question would then be why that wasn't use as the base for MS-DOS 6.21, but I guess it's because it lacks pretty much *all* the additional tools, not just DoubleSpace.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:50 pm 
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I've argued about this some time ago. Like 8 years ago: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11000 ;)
I haven't seen a non OEM box of MS-DOS 3.3+ without the "Not for retail sale except with a computer system" that wasn't an "Upgrade/Update/Step-Up". I don't see such annotations on the MS-DOS 3.2 box photos that I have, but I assume it was the same.

I think you simply weren't supposed to built your own PC, just buy one somewhere with the OS preinstalled.

I've also haven't seen anywhere a retail version of Windows 95 on CD-ROM - only floppy versions. And the vanilla OEM version of 95 on CD-ROM contains a bootable floppy that should be customized by the OEM with DOS CD-ROM drivers.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:10 pm 
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GL1zdA wrote:
I think you simply weren't supposed to built your own PC, just buy one somewhere with the OS preinstalled.

If you were buying the components to build a new PC, then you'd usually be allowed to get a full copy of MS-DOS with the "Not for retail sale except with a computer system" license at the same time.

The question then is what the minimum set of components that constitute a "new PC" is: it was common practice (at least where I lived) that you needed to buy at least a new hard disk. Even the CPU was optional.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:46 pm 
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xelloss wrote:
GL1zdA wrote:
I think you simply weren't supposed to built your own PC, just buy one somewhere with the OS preinstalled.

If you were buying the components to build a new PC, then you'd usually be allowed to get a full copy of MS-DOS with the "Not for retail sale except with a computer system" license at the same time.

The question then is what the minimum set of components that constitute a "new PC" is: it was common practice (at least where I lived) that you needed to buy at least a new hard disk. Even the CPU was optional.

This makes sense. Here, in Poland, in the 2000s, people would sell their OEM Windows discs with random (often non-working) computer parts, just noting that "this is a part from a PC that was sold with this copy of Windows".

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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:08 pm 
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The version of the MS-DOS 6.0 code, in some forms, comes with a layout of three 1440k diskettes, which do not resemble the GA version. I recall rolling the disks and uploading the results. I think it was to here. For memory, I used IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS from a GA version.

Delsame (my rexx script that deletes on size and CRC32 matches) gave only some of the setup stuff as differences.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:54 am 
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os2fan2 wrote:
MS-DOS 6

The OEM version is labeled 'MS-DOS and Additional Tools', while the upgrade is 'MS-DOS'. The upgrade includes the additional tools as well, but it was offered to the OEMs as two separate products. IBM did not buy the additional tools, instead including a back-version of CentrePoint tools.

I assume you mean "Central Point", i.e. the makers of PC Tools and Central Point Backup?

GL1zdA wrote:
I've also haven't seen anywhere a retail version of Windows 95 on CD-ROM - only floppy versions.

I assume you mean non-upgrade? I've got a retail upgrade CD-ROM, but I figured I'd take a look in PC Magazine and sure enough I don't see retail non-upgrade CD-ROMs, e.g. https://books.google.com/books?id=zZluS ... e&q&f=true has the other 3 retail options but not that one. https://books.google.com/books?id=zZluS ... e&q&f=true seems to have it, but I don't believe them that it's not an upgrade version (I assume they just forgot to say "upgrade") since it costs the same as the floppy upgrade and half as much as the floppy non-upgrade version.

I suppose at that point in time, before bootable CDs, it was tough to do a clean install of your OS from a CD, so Microsoft just didn't support it? I guess later they started providing a bootable floppy with various CD-ROM drivers on it. I wonder if those floppies had support for old CD drives, like my old MKE Panasonic (non-IDE/ATAPI) drive I had at the time, or if they depended on users having moved to more modern hardware?


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:50 am 
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Before bootable cdroms, you booted from a floppy and install from the disks. Any of the msdos upgrades install from a cdrom, along with win3. It only took me something like 30 min to bring my base formatted system to full working order. Word processors, games, several versions of dos, the works.

The win95 disk, you had to put your own driver on the disk. If you called it cdrom.sys, you didn't have to edit the other files.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:39 pm 
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DOS wrote:
GL1zdA wrote:
I've also haven't seen anywhere a retail version of Windows 95 on CD-ROM - only floppy versions.

I assume you mean non-upgrade? I've got a retail upgrade CD-ROM, but I figured I'd take a look in PC Magazine and sure enough I don't see retail non-upgrade CD-ROMs, e.g. https://books.google.com/books?id=zZluS ... e&q&f=true has the other 3 retail options but not that one. https://books.google.com/books?id=zZluS ... e&q&f=true seems to have it, but I don't believe them that it's not an upgrade version (I assume they just forgot to say "upgrade") since it costs the same as the floppy upgrade and half as much as the floppy non-upgrade version.

I suppose at that point in time, before bootable CDs, it was tough to do a clean install of your OS from a CD, so Microsoft just didn't support it? I guess later they started providing a bootable floppy with various CD-ROM drivers on it. I wonder if those floppies had support for old CD drives, like my old MKE Panasonic (non-IDE/ATAPI) drive I had at the time, or if they depended on users having moved to more modern hardware?

Yes, exactly, only Upgrade CD-ROM version existed. The Win98 and Win98 SE floppies contained drivers for several Adaptec and BusLogic SCSI controller's and the Oak Technology ATAPI driver which worked with most ATAPI CD-ROMs (I've tested several and only one ATAPI CD-ROM in my collection didn't work with it and needed drivers from its manufacturer)

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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:56 am 
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GL1zdA wrote:
I think you simply weren't supposed to built your own PC, just buy one somewhere with the OS preinstalled.

Apparently Microsoft did consider selling a full retail version of MS-DOS 5 direct to customers at one point (see Q78135: Becoming a Microsoft OEM for MS-DOS 5.0). I imagine the number of potential customers who wouldn't have been eligible for the upgrade version must have been very small though. Interestingly, while the MS-DOS 5 Upgrade distribution diskettes are not bootable, the distribution diskettes for MS-DOS 6 Upgrade and later are. What's more, MS-DOS 6 Upgrade includes a setup option that is very close to what OEMs get (minus partitioning, and with a very basic eligibility check). Given that the setup diskette is bootable and has a working FDISK and FORMAT, I would not be surprised to learn that some people did indeed purchase the MS-DOS 6 Upgrade with no intention of upgrading DOS.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:57 am 
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I'm pretty sure that MS-DOS 5.0 was sold retail. When DR-DOS 5 went retail, Microsoft followed suit. IBM followed with 5.00.1, which is 5.00 with OEM-specific stuff removed. MS-DOS 5 did not have a bootable diskette, although PC-DOS 5.02 i have only seen as a base install.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:24 pm 
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os2fan2 wrote:
MS-DOS 5 did not have a bootable diskette,

Which would be the upgrade version, as a non-upgrade version would have a bootable diskette.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:21 am 
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The MS-DOS 5.0 diskettes i got with my new computer in 1992, were not bootable. Instead, you had to source a boot disk elsewhere and install it.

The PC-DOS 5.02 diskettes i got through the mail were bootable, but setup would not run from a directory.

I imagine that the market for DOS was: an upgrade for an existing machine, or a new machine, supplied with a formatted installed DOS 5, and upgrade diskettes. The 'white box' era (where OEM software was packaged in white boxes), was a little later. The 1992 stuff still focused on stuff like honesty.

I did buy some white-box stuff some time later.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Demystifying MS-DOS Distribution        Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:01 pm 
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os2fan2 wrote:
The MS-DOS 5.0 diskettes i got with my new computer in 1992, were not bootable. Instead, you had to source a boot disk elsewhere and install it.

Since there only were OEM full versions of MS-DOS, whether the floppy was bootable or not really depended on the OEM.
However, the setup program of full (non upgrade) MS-DOS 5.0 was designed to be run from a bootable floppy.


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