16.7ms = free software (a silly contest)

Sometimes being obtuse is it's own reward, but this time there's something in it for you if you know what "16.7ms" is referring to.  I'm curious enough to see that I'm willing to shell out my own hard-earned cash to the first non-Microsoft employee that figures it out.  Post your guesses to my Comments section, please.

Your choice of:

  • Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)
  • Kameo (Xbox 360)
  • Project Gotham Racing 3 (Xbox 360)
  • Age of Empires III Collector's Edition (PC)
  • Dungeon Siege 2 (PC)
  • Fable The Lost Chapters (PC)

For the person who comes up with the most amusing, albeit incorrect, translation, I'll award a Windows Vista stainless steel tumbler!

...and just like that, we have a silly contest!

Update: We have a winner for the "real" definition (16.7ms == 1/60 second, the time for 1 field of interlaced NTSC/ATSC video), but I'll keep the silly side of it open until tomorrorow (1/6/2006) at 5 PM PST.

Update 2: Entries are now closed, thanks!  I will be considering each and every one based on their merits, feed it through my ultra-advanced HumorSensor 5000, double-check the results with the IOC, and the UN Human Rights Commission, and present the results as soon as is humanly possible.  Or I may just look 'em over and choose the one that makes me laugh.  Either way, I'll let you know...

Comments (30)

  1. The lenght of time needed to "fool" our eye that something is moving? (i.e. why we have 60 frames a second)

  2. 1 ms duration at 60 Hz (ie. 16.7 ms per cycle)

  3. Chris Evans says:

    The amount of time that a UI action must respond by in Vista?

  4. pl says:

    In interlaced 30hz video, 16.7 ms would be the time between the refresh of two adjacent lines (i.e., the length of a 60 hz cycle).

  5. vern says:

    The number of separate Microsoft companies (divisions) there would have been if Ralph Nader and the DOJ had succeeded in breaking up Microsoft. Since IE was so integrated into Windows, it would have been a sub-co of the Windows Co.

    16 MS companies + 1 sub-company = 16.7ms

    P.S. Thank God that didn’t happen!

  6. PeterRosser says:

    Congrats to Blake for the first correct answer!

    The factual part sure went quickly (not surprisingly). Blake, you got the 60 fps reference correct, but the other part is incorrect. The reason we have 60 fps here in the U.S., btw, is the same reason they have 50 fps (25 fps progressive) in Europe: A/C power cycles at that rate, and the power was the "clock" for TVs prior to the invention of reliable transistorized clocks ^_^ (oops, my geek is showing).

    Now, there’s not REALLY 60 fields per second for U.S. video… it’s actually ~59.97 (unless it’s black & white).

  7. geoff.appleby says:

    Isn’t that the amount of energy needed to power the flux capacitor? 🙂

  8. stewart_whaley says:

    <most amusing, albeit incorrect, translation>…

    The number of copies that Windows sells for each one copy of Linux sold. 16.7 [M]illion/[S]old.

  9. geoff.appleby says:

    The average amount of time required to get Win95 to BlueScreen?

  10. Michael Carr says:

    The resolution of the standard Windows timer.

  11. PeterRosser says:

    Good try, Michael, but the standard rez is 15ms 😉

  12. PeterRosser says:

    Geoff: you still run Win95? In the immortal words of Jesse Montgomery III and Chester Greenburg: "Dude!"

  13. geoff.appleby says:

    Of course I don’t still run it, but no matter how hard I try, I can still remember what it was like 🙂

  14. PeterRosser says:

    Ah, that brings back the memories, doesn’t it? I remember my first impression, which was "it’s a lot prettier than 3.1, but holy crap does it hog my PC". ::growf::

    Thank goodness for Moore’s Law, I say. And thank goodness for fewer BSODs!

  15. Ed Kaim says:

    Off the top of my head:

    – 16.7ms is the upper limit for how long it takes a PM to delete a new feature email once they realize it’s from marketing.

    – 16.7ms is how long the average tester contemplates a new feature before telling the dev team it’ll take too long to QA.

    – 16.7ms is the world record for how long pair programmers can work cooperatively.

    – 16.7ms is the maxmimum time you can spend reading an MSNBC.com article without finding a typo.

    – 16.7ms is the average lifetime of a Vista ship schedule.

  16. Mike Dunn says:

    Continuing the Win95 theme…

    16.7 ms is the time that Windows 95 takes to boot on a modern top-o’-the-line P4 machine.

  17. geoff.appleby says:

    I’ve come up with a really good one!

    If something were to travel at 60 kilometers per hour for 16.7 ms, it would travel approximately 27.7 centimeters (hey, I’m australian, i work in metric).

    The impressive thing about this is that I just measured the length of my foot, and it’s somewhere between 27 and 28 centimeters long.

    So in fact, if I were to travel at 60km/h for 16.7ms, i’d move forward the length of my own foot!

  18. Mihailik says:

    Average speed of code typing in Microsoft.

    If you take in view all products developed by the business day, count all characters typed, than the average period between characters will be 16.7 ms.

  19. Garry Trinder says:

    16.7 ms = The amount of time I thought that the silly prize was software before realizing it was a cup 🙁

  20. 16.7ms was the flight time of the acryl shrapnel of that exploding CD, that killed my CD-ROM drive from inside out a few days ago.

  21. 16.7ms is the search term for which Google recognizes an unnormal peak interest on January, 1st 2006.

  22. Lee says:


    The amount of time it took me to think of this answer?

  23. the ms isn’t milli-seconds, it stands for "monster socks". 16.7 monster socks is the number required to fit all of the Microsoft employees around the world.


  24. mikehill33 says:

    speed of your broadband connection at home?

  25. The time between when the light turns green, and the guy behind you blows his horn…

  26. 16.7ms is the average time between the the moment of starting a new (final, possibly gold) build and realizing you forgot that one bugfix that was pointed out by someone sticking their head into your office (instead of the online tracking system).

  27. PeterRosser says:

    Shannon: I thought that it was the time between the *completion* of a new (final, possibly gold) build and realizing you forgot a bugfix…

  28. Paul Smith says:

    The average access (synaptic response) time of the human brain….

  29. (~12 hours time to answer from this post)

Skip to main content