Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I don't want to boot into Windows for certain tasks.

How can I boot my machine straight to a C:/> Prompt?

share|improve this question
    
Does the F8 menu still have the Command Prompt as a boot option now-a-days? –  Will Eddins Dec 11 '09 at 21:27
2  
What Windows version are you running? –  Beaner Dec 11 '09 at 21:28
add comment

5 Answers

If you mean bring up a command prompt when you start Windows, you can always put a shortcut to cmd in the Startup group.

If you are talking about ONLY having the command prompt when you start -

Go in to the registry and go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Look for a Key called Shell and change it's value to cmd.exe

As others have said in the comments, by doing the first, it will simply load a command prompt after explorer has loaded. If you do the second, you will need to type explorer at the command prompt in order to load explorer as only the command prompt will load.

share|improve this answer
    
Would he run explorer.exe to get into Windows when he wants a Windows session? –  Beaner Dec 11 '09 at 21:44
    
Would be good to note how to start windows normal shell from cmd.exe. –  C. Ross Dec 11 '09 at 21:50
    
Thanks, I have updated the answer. –  William Hilsum Dec 11 '09 at 22:06
add comment

You can boot into Safe Mode with a Command Prompt. Not quite the same, but you're loading the absolute minimum windows needs to run.

Unlike Windows 98, XP+ are completely seperate kernels that no longer run on top of DOS, so this behaviour is no longer possible.

share|improve this answer
add comment

This is not actually possible on consumer Windows, and until recently, Windows Server.

So unless you are using Windows Server 2008, you cannot do this.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Depending on what you want to do you can use Windows to make a DOS boot disk and boot with that instead of the normal boot. You can also install network drivers and there are drivers such as NTFS4DOS that allow you to read and write NTFS partitions, but it will take some more research to build your disk.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Windows 98 definitely could do this. I used the F8 trick to open a real mode dos prompt all the time, back then. In XP and later, however, that no longer exists. Thus, if you're running anything more recent than 98, which you almost certainly are, Windows just won't let you do this, you have to load Windows before you can get an (emulated) dos prompt.

The obvious solution, of course, would be to go find a copy of dos 6 (or FreeDos, or etc.), make yourself a partition, and dual-boot. But that's not perfect, either - my experience is, any form of real-mode dos prompt is likely going to be able to support either ntfs file systems (with some fiddling), or long file names, but not both.

(The safe mode that's been mentioned might also be a possibility... but I recall it being intentionally horribly crippled, as far as what you can run in it.)

share|improve this answer
    
Win9x could do this because Win9x still had 16bit and MS-DOS underpinning (albeit bypassed for some key device (like HDD) access). WinNT and successors (including Windows XP, Vista, and 7) do not have such underpinnings -- 32/64bits all the way down. –  Richard Dec 12 '09 at 13:09
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.