MS DOS 6.2 Makes it better

by Alan Zisman (c) 1993. First published in Our Computer Player, November 19, 1993

Last Spring, when Microsoft released version 6 of its DOS operating
system, I thought it should have been called 5.1... I liked it, but
basicly found it DOS 5 with some added utilities.

The most important of those extra features was DoubleSpace, an
optional disk-compression utility. Millions of copies of DOS 6 were
sold, and many of those upgraders took advantage of DoublSpace to
squeeze more programs and data onto their hard drives.

Even though MS-DOS 6.0 had been tested by thousands of users
before its official release, some of those millions of buyers had problems, especially with DoubleSpace.
Microsoft claimed that most problems were caused by users...
especially by users who had shut their computers off before giving
the SmartDrive disk cache a chance to write to their hard drive.

Whether this was the case or not, reported problems with
DoubleSpace put Microsoft on the defensive. By summer, they
announced that a new version of MS-DOS would be available by the
Fall, and they sent out a version of SmartDrive with more
conservative default settings via the electronic bulletin boards.

Well, this upgrade is out. It's being named MS-DOS 6.2, because
rival IBM has released THEIR version of DOS 6, naming it DOS 6.1.

Microsoft is trying to come out of this one looking good... they
don't want to appear to be profitting from problems that may be
caused by DOS 6.0, so they're selling a version 6 to 6.2 'STEPUP'
version at cost (about $13 CDN). They've even taken the
unprecedented step of making it available for free, as a
CompuServe download. (If you have a CompuServe account, type 'GO
MSDOS62' to get to the download... but don't even bother without a
high speed modem; even with one, the 1.4meg file takes about 30
minutes to download, and will cost you about as much in CompuServe
fees as if you got it at a store).

The StepUp version can only be used if you already have MS-DOS 6.0
installed... otherwise, you'll have to purchase a more expensive
Upgrade version. If you get the StepUp version, most users will
find it fast abd easy to upgrade from ver 6.0 to 6.2... type one
command, and 10 minutes or so, you've got the new version booting

Either way, here's what you get:

A number of enhancements to DoubleDisk. To start with, it takes up
less memory... from 5 to 10 kb less, depending on options. There's
DoubleGuard, which watches disk writes, to make sure they're
correct. You can now automatically mount compressed floppy disks,
even while in Windows. As well, there's an automatic Uncompress,
if you decide to remove DoubleSpace.

Smartdrive runs in the more conservative (slower but safer) mode
of only caching disk reads. It can cache disk writes as well, but
only if you set it up that way. It can also, finally, cache CD-ROM

ScanDisk is a new program, that tests your drives for errors. It's
much more powerful, and easier to use than ChkDisk, and can scan
the physical surface of your disks, like Norton Disk Doctor, and
other commercial utilities.

HiMem.sys now checks your RAM chips at bootup, hopefully
minimizing the dread parity errors that have plagued Windows

Copy, Xcopy, and Move commands will prompt you for instructions
before copying a file over another file with the same name. (Has
it really taken DOS 12 years for this?)

Pressing F8 at bootup now will step you through  both your CONFIG.
SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, one line at a time... with DOS 6.0,
you only got to step through your CONFIG file this way.

Diskcopy will use your harddrive, making it possible to copy large
capacity floppies in a single pass (though more slowly than 3rd
party utilities that can use your expanded or extended memory for

The Defrag disk optimizer has been improved.

Many other commands have received a subtler workover. For example,
Format is wordier. I'm not sure if this is an improvement...
chattier DOS commands.

Microsoft has been a popular target for a while... many people
find the company too big and powerful, with too much influence
over the computer industry. While some of the criticism has been
justified, sometimes it seems like they get knocked just for being
successful at what they do.

Still, this upgrade, and especially the way its being made widely
available at low cost, should answer most of the complaints
levelled at MS-DOS 6.0. If you've got that popular DOS version,
and especially if you're using DoubleSpace, there's really little
reason not to go all the way to 6.2.

(Note from the year 2003): The above article was originally published in 1993, as a review. A decade and more later, I've gotten a series of emails from DOS 6.2 fans hoping that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for copies of older software to check at eBay or at you check on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)

(July 2008): Reader Gustaaf Normain pointed out- "Try this link for downloading MS DOS 6.2 Step-Up files from Microsoft:"

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan