MS-DOS featured a suite of tools for managing files, a text editor and several games. It also came with a BASIC interpreter, which allowed users to write their own programs.
MS-DOS also provided familiarity for some users. Its similarity to Digital Research's CP/M meant that a considerable amount of users knew how to navigate the operating system, which helped spur adoption, particularly in the business field. This compatibility also helped developers port programs to MS-DOS from CP/M operating systems, giving MS-DOS access to a host of programs.
MS-DOS succeeded largely because of its support for clones of IBM PCs, which were rapidly becoming popular. The widespread availability of IBM PC clones helped make it the dominant home PC platform of the 1980s and much of the 1990s. This popularity helped lay the groundwork for Microsoft's operating system dominance. While most operating systems at the time supported computers made by a single manufacturer, MS-DOS worked on computers from multiple companies.
Early versions of Microsoft Windows ran on top of MS-DOS. Many programs, especially games, had trouble working with Windows running, but users could simply exit Windows and load the program from the DOS prompt. This support helped maintain MS-DOS's popularity until development ceased in 2000.