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Microsoft Party Launches New Computer Operating System

June 11, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. rented a cruise ship Tuesday to launch a new version of its MS-DOS computer operating system software, used on about 60 million personal computers worldwide.

Analysts say the update of the world’s most widely used PC software offers many useful features that should make IBM-type computers easier to use.

″In the last 10 years, MS-DOS has become the foundation of the PC industry,″ said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and billionaire chairman. ″It takes a lot to get people to move up to a new system.″

He said the new version of DOS provides enough reasons.

Microsoft went to great expense to announce the new software, called DOS 5, which will cost $99.95 in computer stores. It held the announcement aboard the dinner-cruise ship New Yorker while it was moored in the Hudson River. A two- hour cruise with dining and dancing to the Dave Brubeck Quartet followed.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., also plans an extensive advertising and marketing campaign.

The world’s largest software maker hopes the jazzy sendoff will propel DOS 5 to best-seller status. That would be a marked departure from the last major DOS upgrade, DOS 4, which failed to become a hit partly because it was full of glitches. IBM primarily was responsible for writing DOS 4.

The new version underwent what Microsoft calls the most extensive testing in PC software history. About 7,000 computer users were given advance copies to check out.

DOS is a type of software called an operating system, which controls a computer’s internal functions such as memory management. On top of it a computer user runs application programs such as spreadsheets and word- processing programs.

DOS is used on all International Business Machines Corp. personal computers and ″clone″ models. IBM-type PCs make up more than 80 percent of the worldwide PC market.

The new DOS moves the software closer in appearance and features to Windows, a Microsoft software product that makes IBM-type computers easier to use. Windows has been a runaway success since Microsoft introduced an improved version a year ago.

Compared with previous versions of DOS, DOS 5 gives most computer users more memory to run applications. In order to take advantage of this feature a PC must be powered by an Intel Corp. 286 microprocessor or higher version.

DOS 5 also contains:

-″Help″ text that pops up in boxes on the computer screen to answer questions about how the software works.

-A ″task swapper″ function that allows users to quickly switch from one program to another.

-An ″undelete″ feature that restores text accidentally deleted.

-A reconfigured screen presentation that is more user-friendly.

Microsoft will sell DOS 5 upgrade kits in about 7,000 computer stores. This is first time it has sold a DOS upgrade through retailers; in the past, computer makers themselves sold upgrades to PC owners.

In addition, 130 PC makers worldwide have licensed DOS 5 for use in new computers. DOS typically is included in the purchase of an IBM-type PC.

DOS 5 appears to give Microsoft more ammunition in its competition with Apple Computer Inc., which makes and sells the Macintosh PCs. They are considered extremely easy to use due to their graphics-based operating system.

DOS 5 can be used in conjunction with Windows, which makes IBM-type computers close in function to Macintoshes.

Last month, Apple introduced a new version of its own operating system that gives Macintoshes more features and makes them even more user friendly.

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