Solved Windows 95 / 98 goes to DOS command prompt on startup

January 26, 2012 at 18:29:01
Specs: Windows 95, Pentium 4
We had an old working Quantex computer that ran windows 95 (possibly windows 3.3). A few years ago, the motherboard stopped functioning properly and we could not start up the computer. Recently, I took the hard disk out of the old computer and put it in a Dell computer that runs Windows XP. When I pressed the power button, the screen that displays the computer's information came on, but immediately switched to a black screen that said "Starting MS-DOS..." It then prompted me to input a command (C:\...). What do I do to make it run the windows 95 operating System?
(I'm not that fimiliar with older computers and MS-DOS)

See More: Windows 95 / 98 goes to DOS command prompt on startup

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✔ Best Answer
January 29, 2012 at 15:20:07
I give up, you just like to argue.

January 26, 2012 at 19:52:44
When you introduced the Win95 hard drive into the newer computer the computer thought you wanted to use the latest hard drive as your primary hard drive. So, you are booting to the Win95 hard drive. Do not attempt to type any commands. The Win95 operating system won't know what to do with the newer hardware.

I assume you just want to recover some files from the old drive? That can be done without starting Win95.

What you need to do is to change your boot order back to the original hard drive.

I can help you sort this out but I don't have enough information. First of all, did you connect the Win95 drive to a ribbon cable with no other drives connected to that cable?

Describe haw you did connect it.

To change the boot order you need to enter the BIOS (setup) screens by hitting the appropriate key when your first start up the computer. Watch the screens at start up to learn which keystroke/s to use. Most likely will be one of the F* keys. That is enough information for now. try dealing with what I have told you so far.

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January 26, 2012 at 20:30:56
Some dos programs that ran on 9x would rewrite config.sys and autoexec.bat for the program and then reboot. That might be what is happening. If so we could take a look at those files.

Or it could be the msdos.sys file is the wrong one.

But first type ver and enter and post back what it says. Let's make sure exactly what it's booting to.

Then type win and enter and post back what happens.

Or, as OtheHill says, if you just want to copy files then change the boot order.

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January 27, 2012 at 06:11:53
If you have ran a program that caused windows to restart in DOS mode,
you might simply have to type in exit and hit the enter key.
In that case, the computer should restart again, but now in normal windows mode.

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Related Solutions

January 27, 2012 at 07:53:36
Sounds like the computer is trying to boot to the old hard drive that was just installed into the WinXP box.

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January 27, 2012 at 12:53:52
OtheHill: I connected the Win95 hard drive to the ribbon cable with no other hard drive. Plus, I tried changing the boot order, but it made no difference.

DAVEINCAPS: Version: 6.22
win: invalid command

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January 27, 2012 at 13:17:56
How did you change the boot order? On modern computers it is assumed you may have more than one bootable hard drive.

So, you must also choose WHICH hard drive to boot from first. That selection is NOT in the same location as the basic boot order. Look elsewhere for it.

As I stated in my first reply, the computer automatically changes the first hard drive to the last one introduced in the system. You need to change it back.

If you can't find that selection you may be able to select the WinXP hard drive by using keystrokes when you first start the computer. Watch for a notice on the screen. Usually one of the F keys to hit at that time. Will provide a menu to choose from.

To clarify the situation again, Win95 will not boot up when installed in the modern WinXP computer. Even attempting to install Win95 from scratch on that computer presents challenges that are difficult or impossible to overcome. You should still be able to view files on that drive but not run the installed programs.

If you enter the setup screens at start up you should be able to verify the 2nd hard drive is being configured by the BIOS. There can be many reasons why it might not be. Do you recall the capacity of that 2nd drive?

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January 27, 2012 at 15:18:56
The WinXP hard drive is not connected. The only one plugged in is the Win 95 hard drive

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January 27, 2012 at 15:49:22
That is your problem then. As I have stated a couple of times, you will not be able to run Win95 under those circumstances.

Connect BOTH hard drives and reboot. If the same thing still happens then change WHICH hard drive to boot to in the BIOS.

If you actually used the older hard drive then I will refresh your memory.

Windows 3.1 and/or Windows for Work 3.11 groups both installed through DOS. The way you got into Windows was to boot to a DOS prompt then type:

CD\ Windows> enter. Then your typed Windows>enter again to actually start Windows.

I don't recommend you try that now though.

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January 27, 2012 at 19:12:48
I think i figured it out. Thanks!

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January 27, 2012 at 20:05:21
If VER gives 'Version 6.22' then that's not a windows 95 drive that's booting up. If it was booting to windows 95 dos it'd show something like 'Version 7.0'. (I'm not sure the exact one for 95.) You can't start windows 95 after booting from dos 6.22.

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January 27, 2012 at 20:49:29
So tell us what you figured out so others may benefit.

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January 28, 2012 at 10:51:30
I typed in "autowin.bat" and it said that it couldn't find a sound card so the process was terminated. Turns out that the older technology can't recognize that the newer computer has a sound card built in to the motherboard.

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January 28, 2012 at 13:56:02
Why do you insist on trying to boot to Win95 on that rig. It isn't going to boot. End of story.

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January 28, 2012 at 15:14:32
Not necessarily. It may be very possible to run Windows 95 on the OP's machine.

I definitely do not recommend doing so by the "method" the OP is trying to use, however, just because the machine came with XP pre-installed does not mean that it will not run Windows 95.

Without the actual specs of the machine in question it is impossible to say.

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January 28, 2012 at 16:49:00

I disagree with you. It may be possible ti run Win95 on the WinXP computer but NOT booting to a hard drive that was originally installed to a Win 3.1/95 era computer. It just ain't gonna happen.

That was my point. tasch seems to be bent on trying to boot to the Win95 drive.

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January 28, 2012 at 18:09:17
It is theoretically possible to do. However, like I said, I do NOT recommend trying what the OP is attempting. It would be a nightmare of trying to disable and remove any old drivers that were loaded for the original system and install new ones (provided they exist). So while I disagree that it is "impossible," I do agree that such an attempt is a "bad idea."

If you want to run Windows 95 on this machine, you need to post the specs. If it is a P4 system, as indicated by your "Specs" info, then you need to find out what Chipset the motherboard is using. If it is an 845 or earlier Chipset board, then you're in luck. Even then, you will need to do a CLEAN install of Windows 95 to get things working properly.

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January 28, 2012 at 22:00:24
When moving a 9X or ME drive to a different motherboard you don't need to do a fresh install. Check my # 2 here:

But as I mentioned above, the drive in question is booting to Dos 6.22, not windows 95 dos or command prompt. The OP thought it had windows 95 or 'windows 3.3'. So I'm thinking it's windows 3.1, at most, running on dos 6.22.

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January 29, 2012 at 08:24:05
My point was and is that the hard drive as is will not boot on the newer hardware.

When connected as a slave drive (non-boot) WinXP may be able to read the files on the drive if the drive didn't have an overlay installed.

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January 29, 2012 at 11:31:33
"the hard drive as is will not boot on the newer hardware."

Based on what reasoning?

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January 29, 2012 at 13:24:30
Based on the fact that there are no drivers on that hard drive to configure the hardware.

That and the fact that there is a good chance the drive has an overlay on it.

Keep in mind, we are speaking of THIS drive and THIS installation of whatever is on there.

Too much RAM, processor much to fast, etc. I understand that with enough effort older OSes can be forced to run on newer hardware. The key there is forced.

My statement is that this drive, in its current state is not going to boot and run Win3.11 or Win95.

The host computer may be running a 64 bit processor, Win 3.1 & 95 may not know what to do with it. Should I go on?

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January 29, 2012 at 15:07:30
Lack of drivers will not necessarily prevent an OS from booting.

As I said earlier, without the specs of the machine there is no way to know whether or not 95 will boot on or run on it. So we should not assume that it will or will not.

I disagree with using the term "forced." Provided the CPU is a "common" P4 (if it is a P4 at all, we still don't have the specs) and not one of the more rare 64 bit versions, and provided that the machine has 512MB or RAM or less, then there are official updated files from Microsoft that can be used to make Windows 95 run properly. This is not "forcing" the OS to run.

I concede that chances are the two required updates that will allow 95 to run on this machine are *probably* not installed on this hard drive. However, IF AMDK6UPD.EXE and DUN14-95.EXE have been installed on this drive, then it WILL boot on a P4 system.

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January 29, 2012 at 15:20:07
✔ Best Answer
I give up, you just like to argue.

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January 30, 2012 at 13:20:40
So basically, unless i want to put in the time and effort to try this, it ain't gonna happen. Good enough for me.

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January 30, 2012 at 14:18:04
As I stated, if you connect the drive but set the boot order to boot to the WinXP hard drive you may be able to copy some files off that hard drive. At the least you may be able to determine what version of Windows was installed on it.

In the BIOS there is a boot order that may just state "hard drive". Elsewhere in the BIOS there should be a selection for WHICH hard drive to boot to. Choose the WinXP (larger) hard drive as the first hard drive.

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January 30, 2012 at 18:18:36
Does your # 23 mean you're ready to do what it takes to have some success or does it mean you're throwing your hands up in despair at having to deal with 15 year old technology?

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January 31, 2012 at 18:50:21
The second one. It doesn't really matter. I looked through the files, there's nothing really important thats not backed up on disks already.

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