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15 Years of Microsoft Bob

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the celebrate-good-times-come-on dept.

GUI 191

harrymcc writes "Microsoft Bob — still synonymous in the tech industry with 'embarrassing flop' — shipped fifteen years ago this week, on March 31st, 1995. When the Windows interface featuring animated cartoon helpers was announced, it was hyped to the heavens and briefly accepted as a breakthrough that showed where software was going. Instead, dismal reviews and poor sales killed it after only a year on the market. At Technologizer, we're marking the anniversary with a complete look at how it came to be and why it failed so resoundingly — and how Microsoft tried again with Office's 'Clippy' and other attempts to revive the basic idea."

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191 comments

HP ABANDONS WINDOWS MOBILE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31657726)

HP drops all Windows Mobile/WP. She's going to Android.

Oh great... (4, Funny)

sixteenraisins (67316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657728)

And to think, I was *this* close to actually forgetting about this miserable piece of shit.

Thanks, Slashdot. \:

Re:Oh great... (3, Informative)

piripiri (1476949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657822)

There you are, take some screenies [toastytech.com] in your face.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658012)

Probably would have succeeded if it had been released during the Windows 3 years. Believe it or not, I think BOB was superior to that piece'o'crap.

Then again, what wasn't better than Windows 3? MacOS System 6/7 or Amiga Workbench were both better. Hell even Commodore=64's GEOS was better.

"I minimized my Word doc, and now I can't find it. Where'd it go?" - "It's behind the program manager." - "Grrrr."

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658624)

Windows 3.1 and Central Point PCTools desktop. Perfect match.

The shortcut on the desktop was removed when you kill the original. Even Windows 7 still doesn't do it...

Did I mentionned OS/2 had it too... ?

Re:Oh great... (2, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659218)

Did I mentionned[sic] OS/2 had it too... ?

No, but you might remember that OS/2 was only half of an operating system. ;-)

Re:Oh great... (1)

FrankHS (835148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659094)

I preferred DOS and Desqview to windows 3.1.

Re:Oh great... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658102)

The Game.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658176)

How long must keep bringing up such a miserable piece of junk and humiliating Microsoft?

Forever. And often. They need some humility.

We should do the same for other companies -- Apple needs some humility, too.

Re:Oh great... (1)

Aklyon (1398879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658664)

only some humility? Both need to be smacked down off their respective high horses, to start. not just that miniscule amount of humility you call 'some'.

Spelling nazi strikes again... (0, Offtopic)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659270)

Since this thread is "Idle":

The correct spelling is "minuscule".

Re:Oh great... (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658878)

Apple needs some humility, too.
Like the..
Newton,
Apple ]I[,
iTV...

Apple has plenty of screw ups.

I think Linux zealots really need some humility far more then Apple or Microsoft ever does.

Any failure on their part they will blame...
Stupid Users, Closed Source Drivers, Microsoft Evil All powerful dominance, Hardware manufactures, the Government of X state/country.... All but the fact that in a lot of areas linux is pathetically lacking.

Re:Oh great... (1)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659364)

I guess whatever it's "pathetically lacking" I don't need. I had never heard of Microsoft Boob until recently because in 1995 up to the present I've been using Unix and Linux because of what "Windows" was pathetically lacking, and still is.

To each their own.

Re:Oh great... (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659360)

I still have both of my copies. One I turned into a clock. That face with glasses was perfect for a clock face. The other, I'm not sure where it is.....probably in a box somewhere.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

edittard (805475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658272)

It looks like you're trying to get a first post. Would you like me to:

* Help you with a template

* Waste your time so you fail it

* Just bugger off

First (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31657738)

Leave BOB alone, you meanies!

Bob Who? (3, Funny)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657758)

...Oh yeah. I always wondered what the heck everyone was talking about.....

Re:Bob Who? (1)

catd77 (1743104) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658492)

Are you sure your actually a nerd?

Re:Bob Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658998)

Wow - That was a huge WHOOSH.

Hey (4, Insightful)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657776)

I enjoyed Microsoft Bob very much, as a child. The post-modern room was amazing. I spent hours playing around with that program, so it has sentimental value to me you insensitive clod.

Re:Hey (4, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658050)

Well, that pretty much sums it up. You enjoyed it as a kid. Trouble is, it was marked to adults.

Re:Hey (4, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658184)

I have several adult users who would have loved to have Microsoft Bob. As it was, there was very cranky people well I changed to Office 2007 and they lost their Paperclips or Kitty Cat or whatever the heck they had. These cranky people are not knuckleheads, but rather accountants, loan officers, and other people who like a touchy-feely PC.

The problem is not that Microsoft Bob was marketed to adults, but rather it is IT guys who buy software for organizations. A PC is a tool and like all tools, works best with the fewest necessary peripheries. IT guys recognize this. They have no use for Bob and they feel (perhaps rightly) that their users should have no use for Bob and Bob like programs bring no real value.

Re:Hey (5, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658752)

These cranky people are not knuckleheads, but rather accountants

You and I have wildly diverging opinions of accountants...

Re:Hey (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658790)

These cranky people are not knuckleheads, but rather accountants

You and I have wildly diverging opinions of accountants...

If that's the case, where do you classify HR workers?

Re:Hey (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658950)

These cranky people are not knuckleheads, but rather accountants

You and I have wildly diverging opinions of accountants...

If that's the case, where do you classify HR workers?

Accountants of humans are more despicable than regular accountants because they inflict their accounting on a "personnel" level ;-)

Re:Hey (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659100)

If that's the case, where do you classify HR workers?

I've never met one that wasn't a moron. Some were nice, most were in the 'think they're all powerful, but don't know how to check email' group of morons. They always need a week of training to do a search in Peoplesoft. They always needed 2 hours of voicemail training, the idiot sheet, and would still call on how to change their outgoing message. They always needed written & verbal instructions (twice) on how to do a save as to rtf so that those without Word could open their files.

Morons.

Re:Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658766)

If I remember correctly, Ibelieve Packard bell had something similar. It was a multi room house. The den had a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, etc. The living room had a few games, etc. I liked it, if only you could add more stuff to it easily.

Re:Hey (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659258)

A PC is a tool and like all tools, works best with the fewest necessary peripheries. IT guys recognize this. They have no use for Bob and they feel (perhaps rightly) that their users should have no use for Bob and Bob like programs bring no real value.

A tool works best when it is designed for its users.

The user who found value in BOB or Clippy was not the geek in IT - and not the poster to Slashdot.

He won't be attracted to the GIMP by its name or its GUI - whatever horsepower is to found underneath.

But he will find a welcoming environment in Second Life - and may just discover that his college or university has an outpost there: Academic Organizations in Second Life. [secondlife.com]

Quotes? (0, Offtopic)

globalsnake (1345027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657786)

So anyone no if the quote is by the local handlers, or is it the torture of the day? Makes you feel nice and warm inside these saves get paid to torture american citizens.

Re:Quotes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658062)

Sorry, but this is slashdot. No one no's (noes?) anything here.

it failed because it's bullshit technology (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657806)

Bullshit technology is defined as tech that appears to be doing something useful but you end up wasting more time with it than you'd ever save.

BOB is bullshit technology. Voice recognition for the longest time has been bullshit. It's rapidly becoming more useful. Blackberries and the like for business needs can be useful but often becomes bullshit technology when people use them ineffectively.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (4, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658058)

Bob's just a ripoff of Magic Cap [wikipedia.org] . Once again, Microsoft with embrace, extend, extinguish.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (2, Funny)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658340)

Searching around I found Apple's Cyberdog [newlaunches.com] a web browser with a similar (but not nearly so pervasive) interface.

For once I'm grateful for the "extinguish" part of Microsoft's philosophy.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659120)

If I recall correctly, Cyberdog could have been what firefox became. A basic browser with a rich plugin base. Unfortunately, it came at Apple's nadir and no one built any plugins besides Apple.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658266)

tech that appears to be doing something useful but you end up wasting more time with it than you'd ever save.

Sounds like Slashdot.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658678)

Well, that depends on how you define useful. Just because you don't find something to be useful doesn't mean somebody else won't. Also, that seems like more of a problem with misuse of technology rather than useless technology. Not that I disagree with your assessment in this particular case.

Re:it failed because it's bullshit technology (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658826)

"Bullshit technology is defined as tech that appears to be doing something useful but you end up wasting more time with it than you'd ever save."

All of us who implemented status bar are guilty. Oh, you know it's true - it shoots from 0 - 99.999% in 2 second, and then hang for 5 minutes for the last bit.

After Bob was cloned (2)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657816)

he (they) went on to a great career as a downsizing consultants. If you ever hear about a "meeting with the Bobs", better get your resume ready.

Re:After Bob was cloned (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657874)

he (they) went on to a great career as a downsizing consultants. If you ever hear about a "meeting with the Bobs", better get your resume ready.

Pffttt...

After Meeting the bob's I got a promotion!

Re:After Bob was cloned (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659128)

he (they) went on to a great career as a downsizing consultants. If you ever hear about a "meeting with the Bobs", better get your resume ready.

Although in this case, the project manager of Bob was Melinda French--now known as Mrs. Bill Gates.

My Mom Liked Clippy (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657824)

I think the problem with Clippy was that he was ten years too early. If the little fellow was around today he wouldn't get nearly as much abuse. People are more used to the wizard idea now, and to being guided through tasks.

Back then the average user was (I suspect) more technically knowledgeable - the PC as appliance wasn't entrenched. So everybody felt a little insulted when Clippy stuck his nose in their work.

So yes, my mom liked Clippy. If you actually needed his help he was reasonably helpful.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657858)

Also, he was never any help whatsoever. Nowadays the possibility exists for proper context sensitive help that actually works, rather than just clumsily taking you to a page in the static html help documentation based on the last word you typed or whatever.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (2, Insightful)

Thorwak (836943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658132)

It could tell you answers to really basic things (How do I print a document?), but more advanced questions usually gave an amusing answer at best. Still, I agree with the GP Clippy could be useful for the complete novice.

The problem, if you ask me, was that the average PC was too slow at the time so the computer would almost freeze for several seconds and perhaps even swap parts of Office to disk. The frustration of this happening whenever "It looks like you're writing a letter" of course made most ppl hate the whole thing.

Oh that reminds me :)
Helpful Clippy [visar.com]

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (3, Insightful)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657982)

I agree that it was ahead of it's time.

If you could replace Clippy with Hatsume Miku, Japanese sales of Office would go through the roof.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658038)

I think the problem with Clippy was that he was ten years too early.

It looks like you're trying to do some work, would you like me to interrupt?

I had a college friend who called me in a panic once, she had a paper due the following day and Clippy had popped up and WOULD NOT GO AWAY. It completely prevented her from continuing with her work. I drove there, and found the option to get rid of that monstrosity buried in some deep menu so she could continue after that wasted hour... Clippy should have been the focus of a class-action lawsuit that would have put MS out of business as a warning to others, if there was any justice in the world.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658296)

Nice made up story - but Clippy was never modal and never prevented you from working. In fact, you even admit that it wasn't modal because you were able to get into the menus. Nice troll.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658344)

Nice made up story

100% true and accurate. She had green eyes, too... *sigh*

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659162)

Oh how I love it when a thread wanders off the stated topic and the poster's Oedipus complex appears...

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (4, Informative)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658332)

I had a college friend who called me in a panic once, she had a paper due the following day and Clippy had popped up and WOULD NOT GO AWAY.

I have to say I find that unlikely considering that the Office assistant does not steal focus away from the program you're using and that moving it out of the way is as difficult as clicking and dragging it to the side of the screen. And the deep, secret menu to get rid of it? Right click and choose "Hide".

Every time this topic comes up, it seems like the people most vehemently against Clippy and MS BOB were the people who never actually even saw or used them. They just see that it's fashionable to hate them and jump on board.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658482)

I had a college friend who called me in a panic once, she had a paper due the following day and Clippy had popped up and WOULD NOT GO AWAY.

I have to say I find that unlikely considering that the Office assistant does not steal focus away from the program you're using and that moving it out of the way is as difficult as clicking and dragging it to the side of the screen.

Couldn't type anymore, Clippy demanded something, I forget the details, but just closing him didn't work: as soon as you tried to type again he'd pop back up. I had to go find the way to permanently disable him somewhere.

Trivial for us, workstopper for art chicks. And that's the rub: while it just annoyed us, he was meant to help those less savvy users but they were severely inconvenienced by it.

[rant]All software needs a "leave me the fuck alone" button to disable all the "helpful" features, like auto completion, or the bane of my existence: That "feature" that selects more than what you select. If I ever find the person who coded that, I'm breaking every finger they have.[/rant]

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31659052)

or the bane of my existence: that "feature" that selects more than what you select. If I ever find the person who coded that, I'm breaking every finger they have.

Let me know if you need someone to hold them down while you go to work..

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659210)

ah! the highlighting thing.. Why would any programmer do that? Autocompletion does not bother me when it doesn't cause delay or interpret a tab/space/return as a selection. Also windows needs built-in focus on mouseover.. i shouldn't have to click on a window first before using it.. i'm looking at you, Excel. Makes using dual monitors less useful.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658060)

Part of the problem was a cost/benefit problem too. It required lots of HD space and good hardware to run. Back then HD space was at a premium and good hardware wasn't cheap. But what was the gain? Most people using computers back then didn't really need it. And it really didn't do a whole lot after all that. The wizards today are focused on doing what you need specifically at the moment. Bob was a wizard for the whole OS.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658154)

Nonsense. Bob and Clippy and that annoying little dog are derided because they're so irritatingly, cloyingly, adorably cute. It's bad enough having your intelligence insulted by an obtrusive "wizard" that isn't, but the OMG PONIEZ!! aspect is just the last straw.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658186)

I'm pretty sure people would hate Clippy just as much now. Microsoft and just about everyone else misdiagnosed the "Clippy Problem"--the problem wasn't the format (a little animated character) or what they were trying to do (wizards) it was that the software seemed to make its guesses about what you were doing completely at random and then inserted itself in the most annoying way possible. We wouldn't have minded an animated charater/wizard as long as it wasn't popping up like a Vibrant add shouting "I think you're typing a letter! Do you want help with that?"

See this cartoon (youtube) [youtube.com] for a perfect example of all that Clippy was.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659248)

Oh boy that movie was just about as much fun as Clippy was.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658216)

I think the problem with Clippy was that he was ten years too early. If the little fellow was around today he wouldn't get nearly as much abuse. People are more used to the wizard idea now, and to being guided through tasks.

Back then the average user was (I suspect) more technically knowledgeable - the PC as appliance wasn't entrenched. So everybody felt a little insulted when Clippy stuck his nose in their work.

They're still not getting this stuff right. Last week I had to help someone from another department with a mail merge. Office 2007, oh joy. Now there's the usual problems with the wizard not seeing the data source from excel because it doesn't like characters used to name the worksheet or it wants/doesn't want to see a named range, that kind of thing. But the problem here is that the addresses wouldn't line up right in Word. The problem was that Word wanted the address in an invisible text box and it defaulted the address block outside of that box. So I had to go manually cut the address block, then click around on the screen until I highlighted the box, thus revealing it, and paste the block in. I can't even begin to fault my coworker for being stumped on this one. It's the kind of problem she shouldn't be encountering.

I'll go back to the car analogy. Early cars were fussy and demanding. You either had to be a mechanic who enjoyed twiddling with them or hire a mechanic to twiddle it for you. Cars these days have gotten far more reliable. You take it in for maintenance when you're told to and the car won't suffer unexpected failures, they just frickin' work. You don't need to know about timing belts and spark plugs and carburetors vs fuel injection. You just have to have some common sense. Don't drive your car in loose sand. Don't drive through flooded streets. Don't take corners too sharply. People will still make these mistakes but it's not the fault of the car or the engineers.

Software hasn't reached that point yet, not universally. Certainly there have been many improvements across the board. But there are still areas that are, frankly, embarrassing. Microsoft deserves a good portion of the blame simply because they are so huge and influential but they aren't alone.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658600)

The trouble with Clippy was that people ended up consulting it after getting frustrated trying to figure out how to do something. Cute is not amusing when you're pissed. This reminds me of when I was trying to teach programming to groups of people over the net by releasing lessons users could read. At that time I was into trying to add too much humor into programming, but ended up just distracting from the content with my juvenile humor. I didn't understand that then, I do now. I'm afraid though that my lessons would just end up incredibly boring.

Re:My Mom Liked Clippy (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658756)

Actually. I always like clippy. It sure beat going through the pointless windows help file.

Rather, clippy was there and I could type in whatever I wanted and he would point me to the right part of the help.

But yes, the fact that clippy could interrupt you was a problem. Clippy could see the future, he could have learned a lot from Google.

Google provides a simple natural language text box search (as clippy did), but Google largely stays out of your way... it offers suggestions without being in your face.

Yes, mock my comparison of Clippy and Google :P

Don't Forget Melinda Gates... (5, Funny)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657834)

How did she meet Bill?

She was Unit Manager for Microsoft Bob...

Re:Don't Forget Melinda Gates... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31657920)

How did she meet Bill?

She was Unit Manager for Microsoft Bob...

Bill: Well hello there, how'd you like to manage my unit? *strikes pose [gizmodo.com] *

Re:Don't Forget Melinda Gates... (4, Informative)

Daltorak (122403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658274)

How did she meet Bill?

She was Unit Manager for Microsoft Bob...

This isn't correct. MS Bob was released in 1995; Bill and Melinda met in 1987. She'd just joined Microsoft and was a programmer -- and by all accounts, a pretty good one at that. Plus, she's pretty hot, and she was 23 that year. Wouldn't you scoop up a girl like that, especially back then when women were still really rare in the field?

Re:Don't Forget Melinda Gates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658586)

Irrelevant. She was the Unit manager of Bob, and killed a lot of good ideas because she assumes users are stupid and want to be spoon fed. PLus, no one would dare to speak against her ideas because of the giant rock on her finger.

She was an adequate programmer.

BOB=horribly slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31657846)

We have BOB in a VM, and even running on todays kick-ass hardware, it's still un-usable, and slow...
Makes me want HDOS back..

Microsoft Bob? (4, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657848)

Is he any relation to Baghdad Bob?

Baghdad Bob: "No, there are no allied tanks rolling through Baghdad."
*background shows tanks rolling through Baghdad*

Re:Microsoft Bob? (1)

DikSeaCup (767041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658044)

I so wanted marines to show up in the background going "Hi Mom!" when that guy was saying "There are no allied soldiers in Baghdad!"

Re:Microsoft Bob? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658292)

Really, that would have been awesome. (:

Not everyone suffered (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657854)

Being on the Microsoft Bob team worked out pretty well for project manager Melinda French [wikipedia.org] .

Half-Life of Bob (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658056)

It worked out pretty well for Gabe Newell [blogspot.com] , too....

Re:Half-Life of Bob (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658160)

Well that explains Steam. 'It appears that you are trying to waste some time on a game. Would you like to debug you network connection instead?'

Did I miss it? (1)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657870)

I read the article, nice step back in time, but other then a simple "I think it felt like it didn't treat the user maturely" no other reason are given to why it failed.

Re:Did I miss it? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658120)

>>>no other reason are given to why it failed.

Bad timing. BOB might have worked if it had not been overshadowed by Windows 95's mac-like interface (with finder, trashcan, and all). Win95 was so close to perfect as an interface, that even now we still use it's Start menu paradigm.

BOB didn't stand a chance.

Well, there isn't a single reason (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659126)

Bob failed for a lot of reasons, and they are all briefly addressed in the article which is after all not a book.

  • To demanding on hardware. And while they later claim that modern hardware WOULD be able to run bob, they forget that Bob would need a facelift. Bob will always need game like hardware because in essence, that is what it is. And who has game hardware? Right, people who know computers. Animated interfaces are beyond the "newbie" market.
  • It was not funny. If you look at the art work, it is dismal. The writing sucks and as said, it is clear it was not made by entertainers but by programmers. We all know what they think is funny. "cat /tin/can cat: cannot open /tin/can" snort. Now that is funny!
  • It is condecening. If you dare treat a 7 year old as a 6 year old, you will have made an enemy for life. For adults, only women could possibly want their hand hold like this. Men would punch your face in. They don't ask for assitence. Ever.
  • It was a closed environment. It wasn't compatible with anything, even MS own software.

But ultimately, it just wasn't needed. People who really don't get computers, just don't do it. And those who do, will just either ask for real human help or muddle through. Microsoft Bob fullfils the need of nobody.

Some might LIKE the idea, for their mom. But very few like it for themselves and then only because they are not actually using it. The proof? Nobody is using it. Go ahead, install it and try to find a market for it.

MS Bob and Windows NT (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657878)

It would have been interesting if MS Bob was implemented on Windows NT, particularly because of the multi-user and security features.

Bad A.I. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31657896)

Bob is turning Artificial Intelligence into Annoying Inconvience ;-p

B.O.B. (2, Funny)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657898)

Microsoft made a Dildo??

It worked! (1)

hilldog (656513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657930)

From the article "Bob isn’t meant for the initiated. It’s designed for the millions of people who, each year, will start to use computers for the first time. Its interface should encourage exploration and its wacky characters may be just the comic relief that new users need to get over their initial phobias." So some stayed with their phobias and and remained mired in the Windows world where they expect the OS to think for them and others evolved out of the primordial mud and learned Linux. I used Bob briefly back in the day and felt insulted the first 30 minutes and there after every time I booted up a Windows machine.

If you have Windows XP, you got a copy of Bob (5, Interesting)

aoshi73 (1545405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657966)

Nice story about MS Bob. Run a search on Bing for "History taking up space." Here is the direct link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.07.windowsconfidential.aspx [microsoft.com]

Re:If you have Windows XP, you got a copy of Bob (2, Funny)

6031769 (829845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658116)

Run a search on Bing

It's always good to have a genuinely laughter-inducing moment before the end of the day. Thanks for this.

Re:If you have Windows XP, you got a copy of Bob (3, Informative)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658578)

No mod points today, so thank you. That was interesting, amusing and brief.

Died before its day... (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31657978)

One reason Bob didn't sell is that it never made it to version 3.0. Most every product Microsoft has ever marketed was a flop until version 3.x where either the people woke up and realized its value, or Mr G found a way to entice the users to try it (i.e. twist their arms a little by preventing them from buying a machine without it). </sarcasm>

Actually this product was focused on a market segment (children) who don't generally buy computers in the first place. While many of them may be quick to pull out their plastic to make a purchase on a whim, what plastic they did have was kind of soggy and didn't carry much buying power. The high tech Mom and Dad who did think that their child should learn using expensive computer technology in those days didn't exactly fancy the idea of buying a 'cartoon like machine' for their children either.

You shall not pass! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658122)

And we eventually pounded Clippy into oblivion through ridicule, satire and parody. We must maintain eternal vigilance against this threat. Hold the line, comrades! Hold the line!

Don't you mean 14 years AFTER Microsoft Bob (2, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658162)

Since it only lasted a year on the market and quickly fell into disuse, I do not see how we've had 15 years of Bob.
Instead, we've seen user interfaces and platforms change quite a bit in that time.

Re:Don't you mean 14 years AFTER Microsoft Bob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31659160)

The 14th anniversary of its being gotten rid of.

Re:Don't you mean 14 years AFTER Microsoft Bob (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659350)

Since it only lasted a year on the market and quickly fell into disuse, I do not see how we've had 15 years of Bob.
Instead, we've seen user interfaces and platforms change quite a bit in that time.

Not 15 years of Bob, 15 years of the specter/memory/nightmare of Bob, that something so bad could ever have been taken seriously. These days when you design software, Bob is still seen as the lowest common denominator, the level below which no application can strive to attain, or not strive, as the case may be.

Like Java (0, Flamebait)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658178)

s was announced it was hyped to the heavens and briefly accepted as a breakthrough that showed where software was going.

Kind of like Java.

Except Java's hype produced a cult that was so dead set on making a bad idea work that they actually did hammer it into something barely usable.

Re:Like Java (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658286)

Yeah and then Microsoft, Adobe and everyone else copied it.

I don't see a ton of Bob clones on the market.

Clippy love (2, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658228)

Give Clippy some love. I thought he was actually kind of fun, in an occasionally annoying pops-up when you don't want him kind of way.

One day too early (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658490)

Why didn't publish it on the first of April ?

I'm pretty sure it would have been a success !

RAM (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658500)

IIRC, it required something like 8M RAM at a time when 4 was considered generous. Only power-users had that much RAM, and MS admitted that BoB wasn't for power-users.

Collectible? (1)

StoneLion (662869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658520)

I have a pristine unopened box in my garage. I figure it'll be worth something someday. Anyone want to make me an offer? :)

100 bucks (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658606)

and i'll take it off your hands.

I don't think you can get anyone to take it from you if you pay less.

All you need to know about BOB... (2, Interesting)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658696)

is that is inspired the creation of Comic Sans.

Enjoy the licking flames of Hell, Robert.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31658716)

Don't simply reminisce about Microsoft Bob, contribute to the GNU clone!
http://skralljt.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=62

"BOB" at the Las Vegas airport (2, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658740)

I used to work a lot of trade shows. Comdex, CES, early multimedia trade shows.

I attended the shows where Microsoft Bob was announced. The hype was amazing. Taxi had signs. The daily magazines they hand out had adverts.

The funniest bit of promotion: Microsoft hired a limo driver, or at least a guy in a limo driver costume, to wander around the arrival concourse at McCarren. He was holding a big sign with "BOB" written on it.

As in, Bob was arriving at CES (or whatever show that was)!

Of course, as a Pope in the Church of the SubGenius, I knew the greatness of "Bob" all along.

What happened to Einstein? (2, Interesting)

nemeosis (259734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31658818)

What happened to the Einstein helper?

I loved that character. It was cute and tried to act intelligent. It was useful, and provided some animated relief humor to amuse my train of thought during long hours of working on Word documents or Excel spreadsheets.

Fun rumor (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659048)

Rumor: Gabe Newell (founder, Valve Software) was once a project manager on Microsoft Bob.

At least they tried (1)

arugulatarsus (1167251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659066)

I know Bob is considered one of the worst failing designs for a ... whatever it was... ever. BUT, I applaud Microsoft for trying something new like that. They surely analyzed the market and thought this would solve a problem.The people here are not going to use bob, but for new users, maybe bob helped a bit.
I kinda feel it's like bashing apple for learning about touchpads in the newton.

Thanks for reminding me... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31659154)

I still have the Microsoft Bob CD somewhere. If I get around to looking for it, I hope I can find it. I think it even came with stickers.

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