Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bring old MSDOS applications to life in Windows Vista

Some days ago, a friend asked for my help with a problem. He bought a brand new Dell laptop with Vista installed on it. He is retired now, but he has been a consultant and manager for many years. During his life, he worked a lot with Open Access 4, and he currently has lots of files and data bases he wants to keep.

The problem is that MSDOS applications compatibility in Vista has been remarkably degraded, compared to XP. Open Access worked, but tooooooo slow and with no support for full-screen mode… No matter what the application settings were (compatibility mode, admin. privileges, etc). After some days investigating, I´ve found a very interesting project that solved all my problems: DOS Box.

DOS-Box is an X86 emulator with a built-in MSDOS version. It has been designed to allow playing old games again, with sound, decent fps, and in full-screen. There are even GLIDE and OpenGL enabled versions out there. You can download it and make a donation if you want here. How to use it? Easy, install and run, or plug and play if you prefer.

The only thing you have to do to make it work is to mount virtual units to access your disks. Just like this:

“mount VirtualUnit RealDirectoryToMap”

Example: “mount H: C:\EyeOfTheBeholder”

Automatic application launching using a FrontEnd

If you don´t wont to deal with mounting drives, and all that stuff, you can use a FrontEnd application for DosBox, many of them also available from the download link. I have tried DosShell and works pretty well.

Main window


Just install it and configure the DosBox path: Edit –> Preferences –> DosBox Folder. Then click on the “plus” icon to add shortcuts to your applications.

A quick note: After adding my first application, I got an error when trying to launch it, something like: “DosBox configuration file not found”. To fix it, just enter DosBox (double clicking its icon), and type the following command:


Hit return, and now it should work.


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