While we're talking about memory and 386 extenders and the like, I'd  
like to ask a question that has bugged me for years.
In creating a multi-tasking dos,, why doesn't someone just create a  
version of dos which spawns a whole new virtual 386 machine for each  
application that is launched at the command line?
This would require some rewriting of the base system to make it  
compatible, but it wouldn't break any existing code, and it would  
allow you to (if so desired) limit exactly how much memory was handed  
out to each application.  I.E. give edit.com only 64/128K, and allow  
the virtual disk software have 512MB, and so forth.
I think the software vmix386 did  something similar when it launched a  
new piece of software, but I never did manage to confirm or deny this  
Anyway, I see no reason why this couldn't be done, since it would  
allow (on the whole) not only giving each program it's own virtual  
machine, but since each process is it's own machine, you could  
(theoretically) launch an entirely different operating system in each  
spawned task.
A simple (ok, maybe not so simple, but still) driver could be loaded  
at boot time, a virtual machine could be created, and dos loaded into  
the virtual machine.  Each subsequent launch of an application would  
automatically launch an entirely new virtual machine, and poof,  
instant multitasking regardless of whether the os itself supported it  
or not.
Is this what windows attempted to do with it enhanced 386 mode?
If so, why did it work so badly?
I'm no expert on either assembly, or cpu capabilities, but it seems to  
me, that this sort of a setup would be the best of both worlds.  You'd  
get multasking, and dos would remain 100% backward compatible, because  
it would never even know it's not running on the kind of platform  
everyone is used to these days.
I'm obviously missing some important piece of the puzzle here, or  
somebody would have already done this, but my question, is: Why?
Can't this be done relatively easily?

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