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The DOS command prompt is a critical part of the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) command line interface. It is the fundamental setting for the interface, where the prompt sets the stage for executing command lines of code. Up until the emergence of new Windows-oriented graphical interfaces, the DOS command prompt was the most common way to interact with the personal computer.
The role of the prompt is to show the user where to enter command line text. The most common syntax for the prompt is “C:\”, although the drive letter can change depending on the drive that is being accessed. Other files, directories and subdirectories may be added to the prompt, depending on where the user has navigated within the operating system.
Although MS-DOS interfaces gave way to new Windows-based interfaces, Windows still included an MS-DOS "shell" where users could still encounter the familiar DOS command prompt in order to execute code, check files and directories, and do all of the other things that were possible with the original command line systems. Over time, when Windows became a full-fledged operating system, these shell interfaces became artificial visual re-creations of the DOS operating system, not actual instances of MS-DOS.