Windows brings out the Rorschach test in everyone


It seems that no matter what you do, somebody will get offended.

Every Windows 95 box has an anti-piracy hologram on the side. The photographer chose his infant son as his model, since the human face is very hard to copy accurately. The baby sits next to a computer, and as you turn the hologram, his arm rises and points at the computer monitor, which bursts into a Windows 95 logo.

How cute. And everybody loves babies.

Until we got a complaint from a government (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) that was upset with Windows 95 because it depicted naked children.

“Naked children!?” we all thought to ourselves.

They were complaining about the hologram on the box. The baby wasn’t wearing a shirt. Even though the baby was visible only from the waist up, the offended government assumed that he wasn’t wearing pants either.

We had to produce a new hologram. In the new hologram, the baby is wearing a shirt and overalls. But since this was a rush job, we didn’t have time to do the arm animation.

So if you still have your copy of Windows 95, go look at the hologram. If the baby in your hologram isn’t wearing a shirt, you have a genuine collector’s item. I have seen the “naked baby” hologram but unfortunately my copy of Windows 95 has a clothed baby.

If you hunt around the web, you can find lots of other people who claim to have found subliminal messages in Windows 95. My favorite is the one who claims to have found images in the clouds bitmap. Hey, they’re clouds. They’re Nature’s Rorschach Test.

Windows XP had its own share of complaints. The original wallpaper for Windows XP was Red Moon Desert, until people claimed that Red Moon Desert looked like a pair of buttocks. People also thought that one of the generic people used in the User Accounts control panel people looked like Hitler. And one government claimed the cartoon character in the original Switch Users dialog looked like an obscene body part. We had to change them all. But it makes me wonder about the mental state of our beta testers…

Comments (10)
  1. runtime says:

    I used to work at Microsoft. I remember "urban legends" about user complaints about some OS filenames. Supposedly, HIMEM.SYS sounds too much like hymen, so it must be obscene.

    And Windows 98 (I think) had some MTV content. Some of the MTV content was about teen sex education (I think). People complained because one of the filenames was TEENSEX.GIF, which obviously must be pornographic. It was just a bitmap of the Mars and Venus sex symbols.

    :-)

  2. w.h. says:

    … and then there’s the Lenna image that everybody uses to test image compression, which happens to be clipped from playboy…

  3. w.h. says:

    …Oh yeah, and who can forget the whole hoopla in Windows 3.1 days about the Wingdings font with the aleged anti-semetic secret message…

  4. DavidK says:

    Lol! I remember that wingdings thing. There was a GREAT article by, I believe, Penn of Penn & Teller in one of the PC mags about it. It was absolutely hilarious. He came up with another word that, when translated to Wingdings Paranoia, meant "Planes carrying Christians in snowstorms must stop!" Priceless.

    It’s amazing the trouble people will go through in order to be pissed off.

  5. Chrisc says:

    Here’s the link to the Penn Jillette story: http://pennandteller.com/sincity/penn-n-teller/pcc/wingding.html
    I wish he still wrote in magazines…

  6. quanta says:

    Well, outraged self-righteous people find offensive subliminal messages in Disney films too…I agree, some people seem to be looking for a crusade to fight.

  7. piers says:

    ianel told me that the pakistani government complained that the original timezone picker in the ’95 betas (which allowed you to click on your country in the map) attributed the three pixels representing kashmir to india’s timezone and unless microsoft switched clicks on them to pakistani time they would ban sales of the product. the interactive feature was thus disabled.

  8. Alec Soroudi says:

    Well considering that both India and Pakistan still claim Jammu and Kashmir to be their own (even though it is technically in both countries), I guess they had the right to complain. The method that XP uses for time zones (City Name + GMT offset) would have solved it nicely.

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