For a brief shining moment, DirectX was more popular than another word that ends in x

In the month after DirectX 3 was released, "directx" became the number one most-searched-for term on That in itself wasn't too surprising. What was more surprising was the word in sixth place: "sex".

That puzzles me to this day. What kind of people search for "sex" on And what were they expecting to find?

Comments (29)
  1. Cody says:

    Well, what did they find?

  2. gkdada says:

    May be they forgot the URL and were trying to find

  3. James Bray says:

    Call me a geek, but was I the only person that thought first of Linux as a word ending in X


  4. InitCommonControlsEx


  5. andy says:

    I thought of ActiveX first :)

    Wonder how many people have tried to search for sex on today because of this article … and of course I wonder what results such a search returns!

  6. Stuart says:

    It returns:

    Two links where the title is just "" with no useful info indicating what you’d get when you click it.

    Then this gem:

    "Microsoft At Work

    Microsoft At Work provides articles, tools, and resources to help you work more efficiently with … Multitask more easily: Two monitors are better than one"

    (for looking at porn, presumably)

    Then some stuff that is actually relevant, like information about protection from online predators, videogame ratings, and careers pages about benefits for same-sex partners.

  7. Joe Bruno says:

    Well, in sixth place on google, from "":

    "Pick a race and sex that you’ll enjoy looking at each time".

    So you can see how they got the idea.

  8. Erik says:

    You get surprisingly many hits, 4 pages :o

  9. thomas says:

    You would think someone in QA would have smacked the programmer who came up with the data structure INITCOMMONCONTROLSEX upside the head.  Or maybe Bill himself would descend and do the smacking.  Why stick ‘Ex’ onto the end of function names in the first place?  Just use numbers to indicate versions.

  10. Mike Dimmick says:

    ‘Ex’ is a tradition that goes back a long way. For example, CallNextHookEx, GetDCEx, ScrollWindowEx, SetWindowsHookEx, UnhookWindowsHookEx in Windows 3.1’s USER API. There were a bunch of new ‘Ex’ functions in GDI for Windows 3.1 too. GetBitmapDimensionEx was added in Windows 2.x.

    There are a number of APIs in the Win32 API which were created as ‘regular’ and ‘extended’ functions at the same time. For example, VirtualProtect and VirtualProtectEx – the ‘regular’ version is for your own process, while the ‘Ex’ version is for modifying another process. The entire ‘VirtualXxx’ family of functions is like this.

  11. James says:

    "Call me a geek, but was I the only person that thought first of Linux as a word ending in X"

    It’s telling isn’t it James?

  12. J9 says:

    Well, has been known to encourage people:

    (second pic)

  13. John C. Kirk says:

    In fairness, I do remember a German TV advert for MS Office a few years ago. This involved a couple getting intimate, but when the man came to remove the woman’s bra, a Microsoft dialog box appeared that prompted him for a password. I can’t find any copies of it online now, but maybe people were searching for hidden gems like that?

  14. denis bider says:

    Could it be that the ‘sex’ searches are coming from meta-search engines? Users might not go to Microsoft to search for sex, but they might do a meta-search on sex, and the meta-search could use Microsoft’s search engine.

  15. AK says:

    I bet they think is the same as

  16. Michael says:

    John: YouTube is your friend for all sorts of weird or "banned" adverts :)

  17. John C. says:

    I noticed the same thing when I was at a major Web content provider that was predominantly technology-focused. Month after month, "sex" was consistently one of the half-dozen or so most frequent search queries. There really wasn’t anything remotely racy on our sites that I could recall, except for some notorious banner ads from a vendor who I won’t name.

    In fact, after thorough analysis of our most frequent search terms, I was able to determine what should have been the optimal content for our visitors: namely, "Download Free Sex".

    My suspicion, for what it’s worth, is that there are lots of bots out crawling looking for adult-related content and that they indiscriminately fill out search boxes and harvest the resulting links. I never did try correlating user-agent strings against search queries to determine whether this was in fact the case.

  18. Gabe says:

    Funny thing about that German commercial — the menu and dialog box are in German, but the voiceover at the end is in English. What’s up with that?

  19. Adam says:

    Perhaps some of the other terms that were searched for *with* "sex" would answer that. You don’t happen to have those stats do you? :)

    (If "WaitForMultipleObject" was high on the list, it’s possible that’s a "WaitForMultipleObject sEx" was a popular typo.)

  20. Michael says:

    It’s "hip" to use english Slogans in German Advertising.

  21. steveg says:

    C’mon guys live in hope. What if all the "sex" searches were by gorgeous people looking for a nerd/geek to fulfil their lives?

    Although I wouldn’t have thought micro and soft are two words that would lead to everlasting happiness.

  22. D. Davy says:

    My first thought was OS X

  23. cereal says:

    Maybe they were really turned on by Bill Gates.

  24. Chris Mear says:

    Probably the same people who type URLs into the Yahoo! search box because they don’t know what their browser’s address bar is for.

    It’s easy to forget that the web is darn confusing if you haven’t been immersed in it for years. The box just says ‘Search’, so why wouldn’t it search the whole Internet?

  25. ::Wendy:: says:

    X seems to becoming a popular letter in use in Microsoft acronyms.  For example,  some groups including windows vista teams that focus on UI seemed to have renamed themselves as groups focussing on UX,  apparantly Acronyms (UI = User Interaction) are being upgraded with preferred trend words in micrsoft (UX = User eXperience).  Pressumably to indicate the value of focussing on the X-perience,  its like spin.  

    Vista "UX"

  26. Larry Smith says:

    I would have thought it was obvious. Given the vintage of DirectX version 3, one assumes that, in those pre-USB days, people were trying to figure out the gender of those pesky 9-pin cables! Right?

  27. Igor says:

    Seriously, InitCommonControlsEx is my favorite :)

  28. Norman Diamond says:

    What are the rules for getting comments posted on this topic?

    I wrote a historically accurate narrative of what I typed into the search box, what the reason was (frustration after a futile hour of not finding useful information), what results I expected (I expected none), and what results I got (9 matches).  My comment seemed to be accepted.  Now it’s gone.

    Perhaps it’s necessary to leave to the imagination what I typed into the search box after that frustrating hour of searches.  Nonetheless 9 matches were reported by Microsoft.  I’m not the one who put those 9 matching documents on Microsoft’s site.

    Anyway the answer to the question:

    > And what were they expecting to find?

    might be none, and those expectations might not be met.

    [The server has a set of heuristics that it uses to detect spam comments (we get a lot of spam comments). My guess is that your comment got trapped by the anti-spam filter. (And no I don’t know what those heuristics are; you’ll have to ask the people who wrote the server software.) I normally don’t bother explaining this but I know that if I didn’t, you’d get mad at me. Or at least more mad than you normally are. -Raymond]

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