First, I just wanted to point out that I put this under 7, because I wasn't sure where else it would fit. But anyway I've been doing quite a bit of research on Windows' history and such, just out of my own curiosity, and I was trying to find some answers but still haven't found any questions that explicitly answer my burning question. Even wiki doesn't explain it in a way that I can fully understand.
What the heck is the major difference between an MS-DOS based system and an NT based system?
I understand that Windows 95, 98, and ME are all MS-DOS based systems while Windows XP, Vista, and 7 are NT based and that NT and MS-DOS are both "from scratch" built systems. Visually all 6 named versions of Windows look alike, a desktop with a task bar at the bottom, but what are some of the core differences and what makes an NT based system superior to a MS-DOS if I'm even saying that correctly.
I mean I am a total computer geek and can work my way around a system better than most, but still I'm having trouble fully understanding the difference between them and why Microsoft started leaning more toward NT rather than MS-DOS.
Well, dos was an operating system way back when personal computers started becoming mainstream. It was (and still is) a command line OS. It didn't have a graphic user interface, other than white words typed on a black screen. Commands are typed in and modifiers are added to get the computer to do what you need.
Microsoft brought windows to the scene to provide an interface that everyday people could use. Many say that Bill Gates stole the idea from Apple, however GUI's were in use even before Apple. Some say Steve Jobs stole the gui idea first, I have read articles that lead me to believe this is the case. At any rate, it was obviously gonna be the future of computing. You no longer had to be a computer genius to access a pc.
MS bought (or leased i think) dos as they still needed the command line for programming stuff. This is a simplistic explanation and I am sure others will correct any misinformation here.
The original windows was built on top of dos. When booting, the DOs operating system would boot first, then give options for booting into windows. Windows went through several versions after the original- 3.0, 3.1x, 95, 98.
Win NT was created for business class computing and for networking IT people, as it was a lot more secure and powerful for those applications. I believe that NT still used DOS underneath, but I am not a big NT guy. NT worked much like any other windows OS, with a gui interface and windows, mice and keyboards. It does not appear NT was a replacement for DOS, but a progression of operating systems toward specialization.
Because of the aforementioned features, the NT kernal is still used in modern operating systems. DOS kind of went away, it was not really necessary anymore although there is still a way to get a command line interface in a window.
Linux users still enjoy command line computing, it is well integrated into any linux distribution. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend trying a partition with linux on a pc. I like Ubuntu personally, but I don't enjoy command line stuff so much. I like my windows just fine. Many IT professionals swear by Unix based systems, as they can have a high degree of control over the system.