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Windows Command Prompt

Published: 06/08/2010

I hear this a lot: "Please open the DOS prompt and type xyz..."

I don't know why the term "DOS prompt" is still used, but that's a "command line prompt," not a "DOS prompt." DOS hasn't been around in ages since Windows 9x and ME.

I can understand the confusion though. NT 4.0 had a Start menu shortcut that said "DOS Prompt" as well which I always found odd. Out of habit, everyone just kept calling it that.

But I have some pet peeves with the traditional Windows-provided CLI interface. I'm not talking about its limitations as a scriptable shell environment (unlike PowerShell), but primarily its aesthetics and other functional administrative tidbits. My first issue is the default setting of not enabling QuickEdit mode. I think that's a pretty handy feature, especially when you ask a user to copy the contents of the CLI to paste into a troubleshooting ticket. Unfortunately, they'll run into a wall on the first try because dragging their mouse pointer around while holding down the left-click button doesn't do anything.

Second, I'm not a big fan of the raster fonts. I personally find Lucinda Console much easier to read. Windows 7 also has the Consolas TrueType font as a bonus selection. It's like Christmas.

And third, why ... WHY ... WHY is the CLI window still the same size after all these years? If you boot up Windows 7 in low-resolution mode for whatever reason and then run cmd.exe, you get this:

This, folks, is a default window size that hasn't changed in roughly 15 years. In this day and age, if you run a commonly-used command such as ipconfig /all or netstat -an, the output immediately scrolls beyond the confined screen's output window, forcing you to scroll back upwards to capture the missing information. The default size out of the box should be much larger. While Microsoft is trying to shoo users away from the mysterious dark corner of the command-line galaxy, the truth is we still need to dive into it on occasion because there is still no easily accessible interface to get your current IP and related networking information in a single click.

And here's a feature request to someone at Microsoft: please add web browser-style tabs for multiple CLI sessions like any *nix terminal application has been doing since, like ... forever. If you don't understand what I mean, here's an example:

Go back to my list of rambles.