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Windows XP in a Nutshell, Second Edition by Troy Mott, Tim O'Reilly, David A. Karp

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MS-DOS Batch Files

Most Windows books treat batch files as if they were some kind of skeleton in the closet or a crazy aunt you wouldn’t want anyone to meet. While it’s true that batch files are much less important than they were in DOS and earlier versions of Windows, they can still provide useful functionality.

The Windows Script Host (WSH), discussed in Chapter 9, makes it easier to use much more advanced scripting languages, such as Visual Basic, Perl, PerlScript, JavaScript, or Python. But even with WSH, batch files are not completely obsolete.

A batch file is an ASCII text file containing a series of commands, each on its own line, that will be executed one line at a time. The filename of the batch file becomes a command that can be executed at the Command Prompt, from another batch file, or even run from a Windows Shortcut.

Although any commands you can type at the command line can be used in a batch file, several additional commands can be used only in a batch file. These commands are used for loops, conditionals, and other programming functions within the batch file and are explained in detail later in this chapter.

Creating Batch Files

You can create batch files with any text editor or word processor that can save plain ASCII text files, such as Notepad. In fact, by default, you can right-click any batch file and select Edit to open that file in Notepad.

When naming a batch file, make sure you don’t use a name that is already used by a DOS internal command (such as dir, ...

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