Why was Pinball removed from Windows Vista?

Windows XP was the last client version of Windows to include the Pinball game that had been part of Windows since Windows 95. There is apparently speculation that this was done for legal reasons.

No, that's not why.

One of the things I did in Windows XP was port several millions of lines of code from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows so that we could ship Windows XP 64-bit Edition. But one of the programs that ran into trouble was Pinball. The 64-bit version of Pinball had a pretty nasty bug where the ball would simply pass through other objects like a ghost. In particular, when you started the game, the ball would be delivered to the launcher, and then it would slowly fall towards the bottom of the screen, through the plunger, and out the bottom of the table.

Games tended to be really short.

Two of us tried to debug the program to figure out what was going on, but given that this was code written several years earlier by an outside company, and that nobody at Microsoft ever understood how the code worked (much less still understood it), and that most of the code was completely uncommented, we simply couldn't figure out why the collision detector was not working. Heck, we couldn't even find the collision detector!

We had several million lines of code still to port, so we couldn't afford to spend days studying the code trying to figure out what obscure floating point rounding error was causing collision detection to fail. We just made the executive decision right there to drop Pinball from the product.

If it makes you feel better, I am saddened by this as much as you are. I really enjoyed playing that game. It was the location of the one Windows XP feature I am most proud of.

Update: Hey everybody asking that the source code be released: The source code was licensed from another company. If you want the source code, you have to go ask them.

Comments (115)
  1. henke37 says:

    And just leaving it as 32-bit was out of the question then?

    [That would have been even more work, because there was at the time no infrastructure in Setup for having 32-bit-only components. (And then automatically uninstalling it when WOW64 was disabled.) And besides, all the people who criticized Windows 95 as "not really a 32-bit operating system because it has some parts in 16-bit" would use the same logic to say that 64-bit Windows is "not really a 64-bit operating system." -Raymond]
  2. Dan Bugglin says:

    I noticed HyperTerminal disappeared in 7.  My investigation led me to discover a third-party had developed it for MS to include in Windows in the past (probably similar to Pinball?).  I assume the contract expired or something.  The original company still has free/paid versions available.

  3. RP says:

    HyperTerminal disappeared in Vista </pedant>

    MS probably dropped it in favour of Remote Desktop.

  4. -dan says:

    I am upset about the removal of Internet Hearts on Windows 7  ( I have no idea if it is on Vista)

    I still can't figure out why they ditched that and not checkers.

  5. JDT says:

    Why not just leave the 32bit version of Pinball in (and run it via WOW64)?

  6. Matt says:

    @Raymond: Two of your links point to the same place :(

    [One points to the main page and the other to a comment on that page. -Raymond]
  7. Matt says:

    @Raymond: Also my main criticism about Windows 96 is that it never existed :)

  8. Brian_EE says:

    @RP How does Remote Desktop work with RS-232 serial ports and non-Windows-type thingies that you connect to them? The nice thing about HyperTerm was that is was guaranteed to be on every computer that our equipment needed to work with so our customers weren't required to buy a terminal program.

  9. Chris B says:

    At the risk of inciting world war 3, is there any possibility that Pinball could be open sourced? I am certain I know the answer to this question already, but there is a part of me that hopes if this particular dead horse is beaten enough, the answer will eventually be "yes".

    [Pinball was licensed from another company, so you'll have to ask that other company. -Raymond]
  10. xpclient says:

    So basically, not much commitment to backward compatibility/effort was taken to understand the code and fix the bug. Good thing, at least the 64-bit version of XP got it. Whatever the reason, the result is the same – customer not WOWed.

  11. AsmGuru62 says:

    Is it possible to obtain the source for this mysterious Pinball game?

  12. ddsp says:

    So, what about writing a new Pinball for next Windows?

  13. Rick C says:

    xpclient, do you not read or follow links, or do you just reflexively bash Microsoft whenever you get the chance[1]?  The program was written by someone else, and Microsoft wasn't supplied with any information about how it worked.  I don't blame them for not wanting to spend who knows how much time fixing it.

    [1] rhetorical question; we all know the answer.

  14. Rick C says:

    @Matt:  The blog software has a nasty habit of loading comments after the page is otherwise finished loading, in such a way that breaks the ability to link to individual comments.  As Raymond said, one of his links was to a comment.  The only thing you can really do is notice that if you mouse over the # on each comment, you can figure out with a little work which comment he was linking to.

  15. xpclient says:

    @Rick C, the XP x64 version works fine on Windows 8 x64. So I don't see why the XP versions couldn't be shipped if they could not be ported (probably some reason like it doesn't pass SDL). Then it could be made for download. There are many ways to make it available if MS wants to.

  16. Joshua says:

    [That would have been even more work, because there was at the time no infrastructure in Setup for having 32-bit-only components. (And then automatically uninstalling it when WOW64 was disabled.)]

    The obvious solution would have been to package it as part of WOW64, and make it not start if some other game (say minesweeper) was not present so the pointy heads are happy. Not-present components seem to take up their disk space anyway so this sounds to me like no disk space wasted if WOW64 on but games off.

  17. AndyCadley says:

    OMG Raymond killed Pinball!!!! Etc…

    @ddsp: They pretty much have, since Pinball FX2 ships as a free Xbox Live title from the Windows Store to Windows 8 devices.

  18. Rick C says:

    @xpclient, Pinball x64 works fine for you.  Have you ever run into the problem Raymond mentioned, about it ignoring the flipper?  If that happened on even a semi-regular basis (as in, probably more than one or two times ever for a couple percent of users) then Microsoft would get no end of complaints about it (just like all the people who don't understand floating-point math used to mock "bugs" in the calculator) and you'd be complaining instead that stupid Microsoft can't fix buggy software.

  19. xpclient says:

    @Rick C, the bug happened while porting code as mentioned. Please don't accuse me of complaining for sake of it, I don't do that :), it is the lost continuity of features which very naturally pisses off many users. Fell short of time is not acceptable to many end users.

  20. Sven says:

    Ah yes, how can we have a post here without a backwards compatibility Smart Alec-y off topic comment from xpclient aka Mr. Kale himself.

    I'm with Chris here – if only it had been open sourced, I'm sure there would have been enough interest from developers to have fixed and even improved the game in no time at all. Oh well, there are always alternatives.

  21. ultramage says:

    Workaround for the comment link navigatio problem: wait for the page to load, then focus on the url bar and hit Enter. This works because browsers will jump within the currently loaded page instead of reloading it when the link to navigate to contains an anchor.

  22. xpclient says:

    @Sven You make it sound like expecting continuity is a bad thing after getting it for years and years in Windows and then suddenly bam! Change of course. Curious why InkBall was also dropped in Windows 7.

  23. Zim says:

    Open source it. People will take care of it :)

  24. Dregin says:

    Releasing the source would most definitely get the issue fixed.

  25. heath says:

    pinball was not part of the base install of windows 95, it was in the plus pack.

  26. It saddens me to think that work by my beloved Maxis was that crappy. No comments, you say?

  27. Bart says:

    Isn't it telling that legal reasons get the blame for Pinball's removal?

  28. Gary says:

    Why not just open source it so others can have a go at it?

  29. Entegy says:

    Wow. So here we have a port abandoned because of a lack of time but that simply means not enough effort was put into it. Because priorities don't exist.

    Add project management to the list of things I never hope xpclient is in charge of.

  30. wads says:

    Ahahahaha… nice story. MS at it's best.

  31. GaryF says:

    Pinball was licensed from another company, so you'll have to ask that other company. -Raymond

    Any way to find out the name of that company?  That would most likely be step one in getting the source 'open sourced'.

    (what if they don't exist any more? – some legal entity most likely exists …)  Does someone have insight into how to negotiate or ask a firm that wrote something in ~1995 (that may not exist anymore) to release their code …


  32. Raphael says:

    Forget Pinball, I want Inkball back!

  33. JorgeG says:

    Amazing. The simple fact that they allowed "uncommented" code into an operating system's codebase is simply embarrassing.

  34. Ah, the quantum tunneling pinball!

    We ran into this while writing the original code at Cinematronics in 1994. Since the ball motion, physics, and coordinates were all in floating point, and the ball is constantly being pushed "down" the sloped table by the gravity vector in every frame, we found that floating point error would gradually accumulate until the ball's position was suddenly on the other side of the barrier!

    (To simplify collision detection, the ball was reduced to a single point/vector and all barriers were inflated by the ball radius. So, if the mathematical point got too "close" to the mathematical line barrier, a tiny amount of floating point rounding or truncation error could push the point to the other side of the line)

    To mitigate that, we added a tiny amount of extra bounce to push the ball away from the barrier when it was nearly at rest, to keep the floating point error accumulation at bay. This became known as the Brownian Motion solution.

    Since much of the original code was written in x86 asm to hand tailor Pentium U/V pipelines and interleave FPU instructions, but wiki says Microsoft ported the code to C for non-Intel platforms, I'm sure the code had passed through many hands by the time it got to you. The Brownian Motion solution may have been refactored into oblivion.

  35. alpb says:

    Curious, how much approximately Microsoft paid for Pinball to that company before shipping it. Is it millions, tens of millions or what? I am just wondering what the order of the amount is.

  36. @GaryF: The Pinball core code was created by Cinematronics starting in 1994. Microsoft licensed the code. Maxis acquired Cinematronics and published the game as FullTilt! Pinball in 1996. Maxis was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1997. en.wikipedia.org/…/Full_Tilt!_Pinball

    I doubt the Microsoft license permits Microsoft to publish it or release it open source. You'd have to go to EA for that.

  37. Béranger says:

    So a big company like MSFT wasn't able to _BUY_ the code of a stupid application, no matter it was to be used by gazillions of users, and MSFT should have had full ownership?

    How pathetic. Licensing, eh? Cheapos.

    [You try that at a meeting. "We could pay $x for licensing rights, or 10×$x for full rights, even though we don't need any rights beyond what's in the license. I recommend that we pay 10 times more than necessary." -Raymond]
  38. armk says:

    You would think Pinball would be ideal for WinRT with bump, tilt, etc.

    [Apparently other people thought so too. -Raymond]
  39. @alpb: On the order of thousands at best, definitely not millions. It was nearly a freebie. Cinematronics wanted the exposure / name in front of millions of Windows users in the hope of driving future sales. The Win95 Plus! pack started out as a promotional thing with dozens of game developers signed up. MSFT initially tried to get the devs to pay for the privilege of MSFT distribution, but that didn't fly. Nearly all of the other game titles dropped out before the Plus Pack release date.

  40. GaryF says:

    @DannyThorpe – Thank you kindly for explaining (I wasn't aware of the background).  Ah – now the question is "How willing will EA be to open-source the code?"  (can a group of people lobby them to do so?)  Any chance of that attempt being successful?

  41. I guess an end-user porting it would be a license violation?  One of the nice things about Hover was that you could port it to later versions of Windows merely by copying a single folder.  Ah well, this is one of the joys of having virtual machines for backward compatibility testing – you get all the games (Hover, Pinball and Tinker).

    [Running on a computer not licensed to run the matching version of Windows is prohibited by the licensing agreement. -Raymond]
  42. Yuhong Bao says:

    "The Brownian Motion solution may have been refactored into oblivion."

    I think the main problem is that it was probably dependent on x87 floating point, while x64 used SSE2.

  43. Michael Mol says:

    @Yuhong Bao … you can still use x86 floating point on x86 64-bit. The opcodes and registers are still there.

  44. Yuhong Bao says:

    @Michael Mol: But MS didn't officially support it. And I think IA64 uses another different floating-point system that is supposed to be compatible with x87.

  45. JailBird says:

    The strange part is, I know I played Pinball in the 64-bit version of Windows 2000 for Alpha.  The RC before it got pulled.  Unless Pinball was running under the embedded FX!32 in that release?  If it was, it ran pretty smoothly!

    Since 2000 already had 64-bit clean code for Alpha, why was there so much code in XP to fix?

  46. Yuhong Bao says:

    JailBird: 64-bit version? I think the Win2000 RC was 32-bit like NT4 Alpha, with 32-bit pointers sign-extended to 64-bit by the processor. It did have VLM that allowed access to the entire 64-bit address space unlike NT4 Alpha though (wonder where PVOID64 and __ptr64 came from?).

  47. Andreas Rejbrand says:

    I also miss Inkball. Kind of surprised that was abandoned from Vista to Windows 7. Don't see the reason.

  48. Zen says:

    Sad to hear it was due to technical reasons.

    I actually hoped someone at Microsoft back then was wise enough to actively remove bloatware and other junk that nobody ever uses (more than the 2 minutes they try out a computer in the store).

  49. Sergey Babkevych says:

    Cool :) so sad :( why no publish this code to open GNU so any body can work and modify that code :(

  50. David Poole says:

    "Never ascribe to malice what could be adequately explained by short schedules." :-)

  51. Killer{R} says:

    I can suggest following technic to debug such problem:

    1) create reproducible testcase:

    a) find machine where sometime it reproed

    b) make special pinball build, that logs all relevant input values – both user's ones and generated by internal random

    c) try to reproduce issue, once did it..

    d) make a special pinall with hardcoded input from last logs

    2) make another special pinball with hardcoded input, that logs everything in calculations. Every line of code, that contains +, -, *, / or even (or especially) typecast must be logged

    3) start 32 & 64 bit versions of it.

    4) diff logs, drink beer, grep diffs, drink beer, diff greps, dink beer, write custom diff-grep, drink beer… awake at morning, compile what you have in IDE, start it ==> PROFIT!

    5) ..hope Win8 SP1 will introduce pinball. Its just must have for finger interface

  52. Paul Parks says:

    Gosh, Killer{R}, that's quite a list. Have you interviewed at MS yet? I'm sure they'd love to learn these techniques.

  53. alegr1 says:

    [That would have been even more work, because there was at the time no infrastructure in Setup for having 32-bit-only components. (And then automatically uninstalling it when WOW64 was disabled.)]

    Does Windows client SKU even allow to disable WoW64? As far as I know, games are not included with the server SKU.

  54. alegr1 says:

    [I noticed HyperTerminal disappeared in 7.]

    It was pretty much the worst example of software. Microsoft should be ashamed for tarnishing Windows with it. I had to use this abomination when testing a modem design.

  55. Peter Danielson says:

    Nice to see MS bends over backward to support bugs and mistakes from Windows 3.1, but spending a couple days to port over a popular feature is too much of a commitment. Interesting set of priorities.

    [You seem to think that the only thing I had to port was Pinball. I had many million lines of code to port, a lot of it far more important than Pinball. (Like, say, Explorer.) I stayed late and probably spent probably four times as much time trying to get Pinball to work than it had in the porting budget. That's gratitude for you. Next time, I'll just go home at 5 and watch some TV. -Raymond]
  56. alegr1 says:

    The barrier needed to be implemented as a flexible border with reflection loss. Then any quantum fluctuations will decay to the floating underflow. Beware that some old AMD processors might slow down their pipeline in a case of underflow (that was a big compat problem in some audio processing software).

  57. alegr1 says:

    My current favorite is Mahjong Titans. Once I installed a checked build of Win7, and the poor game would then assert and crash. Oops.

  58. Joshua says:

    [You seem to think that the only thing I had to port was Pinball. I had many million lines of code to port, a lot of it far more important than Pinball. (Like, say, Explorer.) I stayed late and probably spent probably four times as much time trying to get Pinball to work than it had in the porting budget. That's gratitude for you. Next time, I'll just go home at 5 and watch some TV. -Raymond]

    He deserved that brutal response. Too bad nobody cares about effort when it fails.

  59. Kevin Gliner says:

    Nice to see there's still interest in our little pinball game from the mid nineties.  Cinematronics was founded by David Stafford, Mike Sandige and I in 1994, and Space Cadet was our first published game (Mike was the lead, I was the producer/designer, and a host of others did some coding on it including David, Danny, John Taylor, Jim Mischel and others).  Mike is an excellent engineer, so I'd be surprised if his original code was unreadable.  

    The deal David did with Microsoft was non-exclusive.  As Danny noted, we were more interested in the exposure and didn't see much revenue from it.  However, it did lead to our relationship and eventual acquisition by Maxis.  EA owns the code now, as part of Full Tilt (which included two other tables we built).  The sequel, Full Tilt II, got a revamped physics engine designed by Mark Kness that solved the ball/flipper problem.  

    The code for the game is probably buried somewhere deep in the bowels of EA — I'd be surprised if they even knew where it was.  Probably sitting in a cardboard box that hasn't been opened since 1997.  Microsoft had rights to continue publishing Space Cadet in future operating systems, so I don't see why they wouldn't have the right to update the code to that end.  I may have a copy of the contract still, no doubt also sitting in a box that hasn't been opened since 1997.

  60. Minus one star says:

    Gee, I thought Raymond could debug any program ever written on Earth with no source code but a debugger. Minus one star from the sky :)

  61. HiTechHiTouch says:

    The other virtue of Pinball was that it included an (apparently) totally unrelated OS/2 HPFS.  Before I gave up doing OS/2 migrations, I installed Pinball just to be able to access HPFS formatted partitions.

  62. Ross says:

    Let go of the past.  Windows 8 has a wicked pinball game available from the app store, with one free table.  Extra tables are $3.

  63. @Danny Thorpe: Interesting. I'll admit that I'm completely spoiled by modern machines and can't easily imagine needing to reduce the ball's radius to 0 for performance reasons. I once wrote a floating point math library for my own education and toyed around with various ways of performing certain operations, and was surprised by how easily floating point error can add up over time. Definitely an exercise I would recommend for anyone going into a field that relies on them, like games development.

    I still had to think for a moment about the math-near-zero possibilities that could crop up. I could easily see some later programmer who was porting the game to another language not realize the significance of clever hacks like Brownian motion.

  64. If only Microsoft... says:

    …didn't hate open source.

    It would have been saved almost instantly had it been released as a Free software project instead of binned.

  65. V2 says:

    Why bother with that old flat pinball when this is available:


  66. administrator says:

    Please don't open source that, we really don't want to pollute the open source world with that kind of stuff.

  67. cheong00 says:

    [Running on a computer not licensed to run the matching version of Windows is prohibited by the licensing agreement. -Raymond]

    I think when following the upgrade path, this licensing limitation does not apply. Kodak Imaging is said to be licensed up to Win2k only, but there's article somewhere in Technet that explains if your WinXP is upgrading directly from Win2k, you can still use it because the license is covered with the part from Win2k license. (WinXP upgrade + license from earlier version of Windows makes a complete license)

    [In that case, the computer is licensed to run two operating systems. -Raymond]
  68. Anderson says:

    This reminds me of… Rodents Revenge and Jazz Ball. Good old simple times :-(

  69. lamername says:

    The guys at Microsoft couldn't figure out the source code, but some guys are clamoring for it… Well if you can deal with such a mess of code, then you could also be able to make an open source clone. 99% of open source games are clones anyways.

  70. xpclient says:

    @Anderson, remember Pipe Dream, Tic Tap Drop, Stones, Maxwell's Maniac, Life Genesis, Go Figure, Dr. Blackjack and many more? I want their 32-bit versions!

  71. Now I'm playing with power! says:

    Forget pinball. 64 bit QBasic please: I need to experience Nibbles et al the way their authors meant them to be.

  72. Yuhong Bao says:

    64-bit QBasic would pretty much require a rewrite, given it was written in x86 asm.

  73. Matt says:

    In other words, there was a lump of code that shipped for give-or-take a decade that NOBODY UNDERSTOOD. Yeah, *that* sounds like a good idea…

  74. David D. Roberts says:

    The 'full' version of the Pinball game was included as an extra in the CD version of Marble Drop I owned. It is significantly improved, apart from the graphics, in that the ball seems to go down the middle a lot less often. Things seem to have been shifted around to give a much nicer 'feel' to the game. I spent many hours playing the game, and was really quite surprised to find the rougher version that shipped with Windows a few years later.

  75. An old-timer says... says:

    From experience I found that relying on purely pre-emptive multitasking in windows wasn't all it should have been, so bounding any potentially greedy loop by adding even a sleep(1) call inside it made for greatly lower cpu usage as long as you'd never possibly need to run it more than 1000x/sec.  I know, it shouldn't have been necessary but in practice it made a huge difference.

  76. JJJ says:

    "In other words, there was a lump of code that shipped for give-or-take a decade that NOBODY UNDERSTOOD. Yeah, *that* sounds like a good idea…"

    What's the big deal?  The software works, it's been tested on millions of machines, and it hasn't needed a significant change in roughly a decade.  Who cares if nobody is around who still knows the code?

    This situation is probably more normal than someone still understanding decade-old code on some random project that isn't even part of the mainline business.  I mean really, what are you going to do, train new employees on the pinball game "just in case"?

  77. ender says:

    @Now I'm playing with power!

    Will this do: http://www.qb64.net/ ?

  78. Andrey Karpov says:

    Perhaps it would help to quickly find bugs – http://www.viva64.com/…/viva64-tool

    [Those are well-known porting issues. From other comments, it appears that the real problem was in changes to floating point rounding, which is not something most static analyzers call out since it is far too noisy to be useful. (It would flag ever floating point operation as "possible change in behavior due to rounding" and that doesn't really help any.) -Raymond]
  79. Neil says:

    The physics felt different on Windows 2000 than it did on Windows 95; as a result my high scores are higher. (But I'm still not very good at it, my best ever score is still under 20 million.)

    Also for some reason Windows 95 Plus called it "Space Cadet Table" while later OSes just called it "Pinball".

  80. Nice if you told everyone who the other company was. says:

    It would be interesting to see if they still exist.

    [It's pretty easy to find out. Heck, one of the previous commenters did the legwork for you. (But I don't name the company because that's the blog policy. You must be new here.) -Raymond]
  81. jack mort says:

    @ender. From a player's perspective? May bee?

  82. Spiro says:

    Is it only me who thought about pinball.sys (cf. en.wikipedia.org/…/High_Performance_File_System), not about the game Pinball?

  83. Stupido says:

    @spiro. Maybe. But reading the linked article, "Bob"'s comment about the origin of pinball.sys was the most interesting to me. I reckon it was the original nickname of the file system… ?

  84. Don says:

    Raymond, you're awesome.  Thanks for doing what you do.  :-)

  85. Iosif Hamlatzis says:

    Can you inform us of the company's name? I'd like to ring them up for the source code.

    [You must be new here (and don't read earlier comments). -Raymond]
  86. James says:

    "That would have been even more work, because there was at the time no infrastructure in Setup for having 32-bit-only components. (And then automatically uninstalling it when WOW64 was disabled.)"

    Maybe there could have been a dummy 64-bit version that was shim that spawned the 32-bit version (and provided some sane error message if WOW64 was unavailable).

    [These are all interesting ideas, but they are also outside the remit of the project. The mission of the porting project was to port the existing code, not to add new binaries to the product or otherwise rearchitect it. -Raymond]
  87. antispam says:

    Windows XP 64 bit for x64 have 64-pinball included, I've tried it in windows 7 x64, it works.

    Windows XP 64 released in 2005 and Windows Vista released in 2006.

    What's going on?

    [I don't know. I thought I removed it as part of the porting process (so it shouldn't have been in Windows XP 64 either). -Raymond]
  88. Joshua says:

    [I don't know. I thought I removed it as part of the porting process (so it shouldn't have been in Windows XP 64 either). -Raymond]

    Maybe the x64 port for XP x64 got done by somebody else as a bare compile as the simplest way to resolve a merge disaster. I would suspect that bug is waiting for you under the circumstances it happened before.

  89. Dettoni says:

    Please, Microsoft! Open that code!

    Pinball source code must be a masterpiece!

    [As has been noted many times in the comments, the code is owned by another company. -Raymond]
  90. Matt says:

    "If only Microsoft…

    …didn't hate open source.

    It would have been saved almost instantly had it been released as a Free software project instead of binned."

    If only you…

    …had brains enough to read the comments above. Even if it were open source, wouldn't trust it to someone like you, that's for sure!

  91. Steve says:

    Yeeeeaaah, so, if you could just go ahead and finish porting that code, negotiate a license for source with the current owners ,open-source it and then post up the names and phone numbers of all the original developers whilst you're at it, that would be great.

    Seriously though, for what it's worth; thanks for at least making the effort back then to get it working…I always try to remember posts like this when I am trying toexplain for the nth time to someone why I can't "just make it work" with System X/Y/Z/World+Dog.

  92. alegr1 says:

    I love that Descent I was ported to Direct3D, and that allowed me to play Descent I levels in Windows XP (and 7?). It was a great game for those times (circa 1995). I wish there was the port of the original Lost Vikings.

  93. Jim says:

    To the people above having trouble with links to individual comments:

    Try clicking on the link, waiting for the page to load completely (including comments), putting your cursor in the address bar (alt+d), then pressing enter.

  94. AK says:

    @Jim, in other words, what ultramage said on 18 Dec 2012 10:09 AM.

  95. Ben says:

    @alegr1. Oh yes, Lost Vikings! That's got to be the game I spent most time on. Happy memories. I've still got it somewhere. Maybe I should try it on Vista.

  96. Philo Janus says:

    So were you the one who tweaked solitaire so the card animation after winning wasn't hooked to CPU speed? I was pretty upset that, after watching it get faster and faster over the years, when I upgraded to a new system and installed (XP? Vista?) suddenly the cards were back to slow, stately jumps.

  97. Noobs says:

    Lol, what a bunch of noobs.

    "Can't even find the collision detector"?!?

    Seriously? Do you know about "grep" or "Find in Files"?

    Or did the other company deliver obfuscated code and you accepted it like idiots?

  98. parkrrrr says:

    In case it wasn't obvious why this comments section has been inundated with drive-by illiterates: http://www.theregister.co.uk/…/vista_killed_pinball

  99. actual engineer says:

    @RP hyperterminal  !=  remote desktop

  100. Adam says:

    I miss Pinball, and Hover, and the "Fun Stuff" that came  with Win 95.  I had such a huge crush on Edie Brickell in '95 thanks to that music video lol.  So many fond memories of Windows in its younger years.

  101. Mike Sandige says:

    I was technical lead on the project, and did a lot of the coding along with Danny Thorpe and a handful of others.  It's great to see that folks still remember the game.  

    Thanks, Raymond, for putting in the frame rate limiter, btw.  

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the code was sensitive to changes in floating point rounding when compiled for 64 bits.   Or perhaps the data files had implicit 32 bit data fields that don’t match 64 bit compiled structures when loaded.   It’s also possible that, even with your frame rate limiter, the code still isn’t properly handling the numeric ranges for small time slices that happen with faster computers.   In any rate, I would have been happy to help keep Pinball working.  

    Oh, and I’m pretty sure I put collision detection code in there.  If I remember right, the collision detection was distributed – each table object class handled collisions in potentially different ways.   I’m pretty sure there was a base class with basic collision, though, and a handful of geometric primitives for computing intersections.

  102. Jevon Wright says:

    @ Mike Sandige, Danny Thorpe and others: as the original developers/company, what is the chance that you could release Pinball as open source? The community would instantly revive it!

  103. Matt says:

    I briefly worked for the company that first made HyperTerminal … that company was Hilgraeve, in Monroe, MI.  And that is my only contribution to this thread.

  104. Anon says:

    It's bit offtopic but why was HPFS driver back in NT 4 called pinball.sys?

    And going still further offtopic, why is the FAT driver called fastfat.sys? Was there an earlier slower fat driver? What could you possibly get so wrong with a FAT implementation that it needed to be chucked out?

  105. Now I'm playing with power! says:

    @ender. You just blew my mind (and i really should learn to use a search engine :)

  106. AK says:

    @Jevon Wright, please do us all a favor and search for "open source" on this page. It has already been discussed to death.

  107. f0dder says:

    Raymon, kudos for for attempting the port – and even more kudos for giving up and focusing on more important tasks.

    For the people whining, you most likely have a legit Windows XP license – while it might not be EULA-kosher for you to do this, I don't think anybody in their right mind is going ot mind. Bring out your XP CD, copy PINBALL.* from it, and EXPAND the files (yes, you will have to either guess the correct extensions or hunt through installation files, but it's not rocket science). I did this earlier today, and the XP32SP2 PINBALL works just fine on Win7X64SP1.

    As for ZOMG IT'S NOT ON WINDOWS ANYMORE, whatever. I'm glad that piece of fluff is gone, and would love that a lot of other fluff was gone as well – a power-user supermodular windows would rock. Probably not gonna happen, but kudos to the kernel+core teams for doing a lot of nice work wrt. module boundaries.

  108. Charles says:

    The Windows 8 game, Pinball FX2, is *infinitely* better…


  109. Spiro says:


    According to en.wikipedia.org/…/Talk:High_Performance_File_System, the HPFS codename was "Pinball".

    About fastfat: Yes, I asked myself the same question more than once, but I do not have an answer.

  110. Chris C says:

    I, myself, *would* in fact argue for paying 10x for full rights; "just because (*you* think) we don't need them *now* does *not* mean we *never will;* and, trust me, it is possible to delay too long and end up regretting it."

  111. Tim says:

    @Chris C well, it turns out they didn't need the source code until Windows Vista came out, and by that time a circa-early ninties pinball game was pretty much worthless, so it looks to have been a pretty smart move on Microsoft's part.

  112. Jones damn comment system ! says:

    For those that ask for the source code all the time. It is easy. Reverse engineer it !

    Pinball is a basic game so it should be relatively easy to get the needed parts and write a clone with the same physics and graphics.

    These license agreements in software is bullshit. Made by lawyers to get money.

    License's only hurt the evolution in software (and hardware) !

  113. Hugo says:

    "Running on a computer not licensed to run the matching version of Windows is prohibited by the licensing agreement."

    Does that mean microsoft broke their own hypocritical agreement by releasing vista with invalid hardware requirements ?

    Seems like that applies to Surface with 1 gb memory too. You can't multitask with that little memory yet it say multitask on the ads ?!

    False advertisements ? That is illegal isn't it ?

  114. Annoyed Josh says:

    "Windows 8 game, Pinball FX2"

    What about those people that do not own a touch enabled screen or do not want to be locked-in to the bad desktop user experience that is windows 8 ?

    Bring back the start button and make metro optional !

    Than i will upgrade.

    That reverse engineer idea was good.

    I've seen many good games in the comments.

    This could be a movement 'do not let the games be forgotten' or something like that.

    EA have probably misplaced the code for pinball :(

    I know of many projects that are gone forever due to licensing and the fact that the owner do not give a crap about preserving it.

    Lots of music have disappeared on tapes this way too (back before "pirates" helped preserve history)

    Should be illegal for the owner to let such things disappear.

    I mean they are the owner no one else can legally preserve it. Should that not be a requirement for ownership ?

  115. > Lol, what a bunch of noobs.

    > "Can't even find the collision detector"?!?

    > Seriously? Do you know about "grep" or "Find in Files"?

    Right.  Because all you have to do is search for Here_Be_The_Collision_Detector.

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