Special advance screening of five seconds of True Lies


In response to Perhaps the movies made too literal a translation, Steve Sinofsky reminded me that everybody at Microsoft got a special advance screening of the movie True Lies, or at least five seconds' worth.

The computer that Arnold Schwarzenegger's character infiltrates runs the Arabic version of Windows 3.1, and the Arabic version of Word 6 appeared on screen as well. Steve was in charge of the Office division at the time and managed to get permission to show a clip from a rough cut of the movie at the 1994 company meeting. He explains, "I had to run to the airport and pick up a beta tape, show it at the meeting, and then return it via air-courier."

It was like some sort of spy movie.

Oh, wait.

Comments (13)
  1. Name required says:

    It was like some sort of spy movie.

    Possibly the funnies thing you’ve posted here, IMO.

  2. Aaargh! says:

    How did Win3.1 handle arabic ? Did it support unicode ? Was right-to-left font rendering a standard feature of win3.1 ?

  3. KenW says:

    @Aaargh!: Rent the movie and find out. :-)

  4. Josh says:

    I don’t believe 3.1 supported Unicode, but rather used the "per language" code page approach.  That is, while the first 128 characters always remained the same, the last 128 characters for each byte were specific to a language, and could only be interpreted properly if you were running it in the appropriate language mode.  I have no idea on font rendering, but RTL rendering is extremely old, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  5. Mike R says:

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I just wanted to thank you for pointing out the Asteroid Cafe in one of your previous posts.  With me working in Fremont and my fiance working in Ballard, we like to try out various places in Fremont before heading off to the ballet.  With it’s fantastic food, Asteroid has become one of our favorites.  So thank you for pointing them out.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Hebrew Windows 3.1 had RTL rendering, including TrueType fonts. Actually, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 imporved on the Hebrew support, hence everyone in Israel used (=pirated) it instead.

    And yes, it didn’t support Unicode, just used codepage 1255 for Hebrew. Which, of course, was incompatible with DOS Hebrew support (CP 862).

  7. Joe Developer says:

    Just think, if that happened today, he’d have to run to the airport to pick up the HD-DVD!

  8. Starfish says:

    But he wouldn’t have to return the HD-DVD via air-courier, the distributor is looking for an excuse to be rid of it…

  9. Shameer says:

    "I had to run to the airport and pick up a beta tape"

    They still used Beta tapes in 1994?

  10. Yuhong Bao says:

    "They still used Beta tapes in 1994?"

    Probably "beta" in terms of beta versions of MS software.

  11. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    "They still used Beta tapes in 1994?"

    This was not consumer Beta (Betamax). That was professional Betacam format.

  12. ATZ Man says:

    Beta is a word Sony used in several trademarks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betamax

    The link mentions that the last Sony Betamax was made in 2002.

    @Yuhong Bao: I took the beta to refer to the tape because the movie hadn’t been released and the tape was lent by the studio to Microsoft.

  13. David B says:

    That movie inspired me to install the Arabic version of Windows 3.1 on a spare computer in the office.  Then I swapped the spare with a co worker’s primary computer as a prank.  She was very confused for awhile…

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