Specifies the name and location of an alternate command interpreter you want Windows XP to use for the MS-DOS subsystem.


shell=[[Drive:]Path] FileName [parameters]


[[Drive:]Path] FileName : Specifies the location and name of the command interpreter.

parameters : Specifies any command-line parameters or command-line options that can be used with the specified command interpreter.

/? : Displays help at the command prompt.


  • Default setting

    By default, the MS-DOS subsystem uses a special version of that works seamlessly with the other Windows XP subsystems (including piping and redirection between subsystems); therefore, the shell command is unnecessary.

  • Specifying a 16-bit command interpreter

    Although it is not recommended, you can use the shell command to specify your own 16-bit command interpreter.

  • Using command-line options with a command interpreter

    The shell command itself does not accept any command-line options, but if the command interpreter does, you can include them on the shell command line.


Suppose the file is in the /Bin directory on your startup drive, and you want to use as your command interpreter. To do this, add the following command to your Config.nt file:


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Information that the user must supply


Elements that the user must type exactly as shown

Ellipsis (...)

Parameter that can be repeated several times in a command line

Between brackets ([])

Optional items

Between braces ({}); choices separated by pipe (|). Example: {even|odd}

Set of choices from which the user must choose only one

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Code or program output

Command-line reference A-Z