Windows system cmd.exe

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GNU Midnight Commander using box drawing characters in the Win32 console. Win32 console is a text user interface implementation within the system of Windows API, which runs console applications. Win32 consoles are typically used for applications that do not need to display images but which might use color. A Win32 console application may run in two modes. One mode places the text in a window and uses an operating system’s font rendering. In this mode, an application’s interaction with user is controlled by the windowing system. In a full screen mode Win32 console uses a hardware text mode and uploads a raster font to the video adapter.

This is analogous to a text system console. Text environments in Unix-like systems usually do not have such a feature. The output buffer is a rectangular grid where characters are stored, together with their attributes. The console window may be displayed as a normal window on the desktop, or may be switched to full screen to use the actual hardware text mode, if a video driver permits a chosen screen size. The display mode is locked in background intensity mode, thus blinking does not work. Also, the underscore attribute is not available.

Win32 console programs are often mistaken for MS-DOS applications, especially on Windows 9x. However, a Win32 Console application is just a special form of a native Win32 application. In earlier versions of Windows, there is no native support for consoles. 1 and earlier are merely a graphical interface for MS-DOS, most text programs that ran on earlier Windows versions were actually MS-DOS programs running in a window. Windows 9x support is relatively poor compared to Windows NT, because the console window runs in the system virtual DOS machine and so keyboard input to a Win32 console application had to be directed to it by conagent. This speeds up operation considerably if the actual VGA text mode is used. Under Windows NT and Windows CE, the screen buffer uses four bytes per character cell: two bytes for character code, two bytes for attributes.