Buying an entire Egghead Software store


During the development of Windows 95 (which released to the public ten years ago today), application compatibility was of course a very high priority. To make sure that coverage was as broad as possible, the development manager for Windows 95 took his pick-up truck, drove down to the local Egghead Software store (back when Egghead still existed), and bought one copy of every single PC program in the store.

He then returned to Microsoft, unloaded all the software onto tables in the cafeteria, and invited every member of the Windows 95 team to come in and take responsibility for up to two programs. The ground rules were that you had to install and run the program, use it like a normal end user, and file a bug against everything that doesn't work right, even the minor stuff. (Of course, you had to provide the program to the person investigating the bug upon request.) In exchange for taking responsibility for ensuring that Windows 95 was compatible with your adopted programs, you got to keep them after Windows 95 shipped. If you did a good job with your two, you could come back for more.

The cafeteria was filled with Windows 95 team members, browsing through the boxes upon boxes of software like bargain-hunters at a flea market. And there were the inevitable "What'd you get?" comparisons afterwards.

I picked up only one program, an English/German automatic translator. It ran fine but produced pretty bad translations. (Not that the quality of the translations was in any way the fault of Windows!)

Comments (22)
  1. Thus the Egghead store owner is the single most happy user of Windows 95 :D

  2. Miles Archer says:

    You fool, of course it’s Windows fault!

    (It’s inevitable that someone would say, why not get the first shot. ;-) )

  3. A lawyer says:

    I hope that no license agreements were broken

    in the testing process.

  4. Nate S. says:

    Very cool, Raymond!

  5. That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. I wish I could get that excited about the current stuff I’m working on.

  6. Lee Dohm says:

    One of my fondest memories of working in the computer industry is from the Win95 release. I had worked at Egghead Software as a retail salesperson for about five years before accepting a full time job at a major chip manufacturer. I went to the midnight release of Win95 at my old Egghead, partly to shmooze with my old friends, old regular customers … and partly to get my hands on Win95.

    The next day I was falling asleep in the quarterly all-hands meeting when the VP of my section asked if anyone had gone to the release at midnight … I was very surprised to find that I was the only one who raised my hand. In a roomful of geeks … I was an instant celebrity … having out-geeked them all.

  7. Anon says:

    A lawyer said:

    I hope that no license agreements were broken

    in the testing process.

    Anon says:

    I have absolutely no idea what A lawyer is on about…

  8. Antimail says:

    Raymond Chen describes his past experience on testing a randomly chosen third-party app with Windows…

  9. Antimail says:

    Raymond Chen describes his past experience on testing a randomly chosen third-party app with Windows…

  10. Antimail says:

    Raymond Chen describes his past experience on testing a randomly chosen third-party app with Windows…

  11. Norman Diamond says:

    (Not that the quality of the translations

    > was in any way the fault of Windows!)

    In that situation, of course. But when Microsoft provides the translations (i.e. the messages, dialogs, help files, etc. that are built into Windows) we know whom to blame. For Windows 2000 it was possible to download English-language help files and have a better chance of figuring out what was intended. Do you know why such downloads aren’t available for later Windows versions?

    The latest one that affected me was while trying to copy a folder from one hard drive to another. Windows Explorer popped up a message box saying that it couldn’t delete one of the items (file or subfolder I forgot which). Even with the kind of experience I’ve had, this still gave me half a heart attack. Making a backup isn’t supposed to reduce the number of copies in existence. Well, after it happened a few more times I figured out that the error was really that Windows Explorer couldn’t copy the file, but the word copy was mistranslated to delete. And as for why Windows Explorer couldn’t copy the file, well there was some European accented vowel in a folder name, Windows 2000 had created the folder and its contents, but Windows XP couldn’t copy the folder or its contents.

    > Anon says:

    > I have absolutely no idea what A lawyer is

    > on about…

    Microsoft considers it illegal to do reverse engineering. Hmm, Mr. Chen, can you say how you obtained exemptions?

  12. oldnewthing says:

    Yes I filled out legal forms that were sent to the vendors. No I didn’t save any of them. I didn’t expect that Norman was going to hound me about it ten years later.

  13. Marc says:

    As you’re talking about bad translations… have you seen the outright embarassing and even misleading results from the automatic translation of KB articles?

    This "feature" should definitely be disabled again. It makes MSFT look like idiots and is utterly useless because you can often only understand the translated article once you mentally translate it back to English.

  14. Scott says:

    That’ll teach you to make throwaway comments about anything in this blog. Egghead store fun leads to translation complaints! And I’m sure they feel this is the proper venue for their griping.

  15. We have a couple of Win95 team members. I’ll have to ask them what software they chose to test.

    Good times… I was still refusing to write anything for Windows at that point. DOS4GW for me.

  16. Antimail says:

    Raymond Chen describes his past experience on testing a randomly chosen third-party app with Windows…

  17. Danny Glasser piles on.

  18. The schoolyard game gains new life.

  19. Vince. P says:

    Scott, You didn’t think that Norman would resist the temptation to make a negative comment (no matter how off-topic to the topic) did you? I can spot his griping without even needing to see his name.

  20. Raymond, was this the same pickup truck that was filled with ice at the RTM party in July 1995? I believe I have a picture of you in the back of that truck.

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