Why are Windows setup logs stored in a Panther directory? Does it have anything to do with the abandoned Panther project from the precursor to Windows 95?


Some time ago, I discussed the fates of the various cat projects that led to Windows 95, which was in turn a follow-up to a list of cat-related code names from projects that led to Windows 95.

In summary: There were a bunch of projects with cat-related code names. Only one of the projects survived to Windows 95 in its originally-envisioned form. Two of the projects were morphed into other projects that became part of Windows 95. One (Panther) was cancelled outright.

More than one person asked whether the canceled Panther project is why Windows Setup logs are in a directory called "Panther".

I doubt it.

After all, the Panther project was cancelled early in the exploratory phase of the product that eventually became Windows 95. No public builds were ever released that contained Panther.

You launched Panther by launching Windows 3.1, then going to Program Manager, and double-clicking the icon of a Hallowe'en pumpkin.

I don't know why the Panther icon was a Hallowe'en pumpkin. Maybe the project started on Hallowe'en?

On the other hand, the Panther subdirectory that people are asking about was introduced in Windows Vista, and it is highly unlikely that Windows Vista cared about a long-dead experimental project from over 15 years ago. Windows Vista didn't support upgrading from anything older than Windows 2000; it certainly didn't care about upgrading from an experimental operating system from the early 1990s that never even made it as far as a beta.

From looking at the source code history, it appears that Panther was the code name for what is now known as Windows Deployment Services.

Another case of code name reuse.

Comments (6)
  1. cheong00 says:

    Off-topic: It’s kind of amusing to see you summarize all recent posts into single sentence. :P

    1. I’ve been doing that since the start of the blog. It’s just that the switch from dotText to Teligent made the one-sentence summaries harder to find, but they were still there. (You had to switch to excerpt mode.) The migration from Teligent to WordPress failed to migrate the excerpts, but they are showing up for new posts. I’ll take it up with the blog admin team.

      1. Ben says:

        >I’ve been doing that since the start of the blog.
        Oh wow I never knew that, I too though it was interesting to see all these one-line summarization haha!

        Also Off-topic, any hope of bringing back your old color scheme? I loved it, it was so warm!

  2. AsmGuru62 says:

    So, that is why expression: “pet project”?!..
    :-)

  3. Jack says:

    Was Panther abandoned because it was impossible or was it abandoned because doing it properly would take much more work than just writing a new kernel?

  4. ficuswhisperer says:

    I’ve been doing quite a bit of unattended install mucking about for setting up a lab of dozens of VMs and was just wondering this exact question. How topical.

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