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Though DOS is very popular in the embedded world, it does have some major drawbacks. First is the famous memory barrier limiting DOS-based applications to just 640 kbytes in size. In addition, DOS doesn’t have built-in support for multitasking. And because it is a 16-bit operating system, DOS cannot use the latest 32-bit C++ development tools from Microsoft and Borland International Inc.

How can the embedded world get around the limitations of DOS? One possible solution is Windows NT. When Microsoft created Windows NT, it first designed the Win32 application programming interface, a definition of the system calls that programmers use to write applications. One of the design goals of the Win32 API is to make it easy to port existing 16-bit Windows applications to 32 bits. Microsoft maintained compatibility in the Win32 API by keeping most existing Windows system calls for writing user-interface code.

Microsoft’s second goal for the


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