Slashdot is running a story about the abscence of some DOS aspects from Microsoft's new operating system. Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows ME. Apparently, the new OS doesn't have the "Boot to command prompt" option in the F8 menu, or the "Restart in MS-DOS" option on the Shutdown menu. But is DOS really needed any more? Since the last DOS game I played was Duke Nukem 3D, I'd say that DOS gaming is pretty much dead. Has there been a major title released for DOS in the last 3 years? Not that I can remember, so I highly doubt that Microsoft has any designs on the gaming market with this move.
In my opinion, Windows ME is for people who want to run crappy programs on new PC's. If you wanted to run good programs on a new PC, you'd run Windows 2000. Win2K doesn't work well with some older games, but it works fine with most newer ones. I've played Rogue Spear, Age of Kings, Diablo, Diablo II, Unreal Tournament, SimCity 3000, Jedi Knight, Quake 3, Alpha Centauri, and many others on my Windows 2000 box just fine. I'd say that covers many of the "must-have" games for the last 2 years or so.
If you can give up your DOS programs, Windows 2000 is the way to go. I was a hardcore DOS user back when Windows 95 came out. I refused to adopt it until well into two years after it's debut, simply because it was too slow, and I had DOS down to a science. That said, I haven't tinkered with an autoexec.bat or a config.sys in a long while, other than to make a DOS boot disk with network access here at work. I'm betting that 99% of Windows users will never need or miss DOS from their machines.
The only places DOS is really needed are shops that run DOS programs from 1992. You'll find a lot of places with some proprietary ISA card which uses some ancient DOS program, all manufactured by a company that is out of business or hasn't updated their software in five years. The solution is simple here, DON'T UPGRADE!
That's right, don't upgrade to a new machine. I've got a few of these situations here at work. Try finding a new machine with ISA slots from Gateway or Dell. You can do it, it's just a pain.
If your program was written 5 years ago to run in DOS, does it really need a Gigahertz Pentium III? No. Use your old boxes until they die, then find another old box. Upgrade to a different product, or insist that the vendor produce a 32-bit version of their software. Whatever you do, don't buy a brand new PC and then try to run your ancient software on a shiny new OS.