Microsoft BOB lives!

Microsoft BOB lives!

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Microsoft BOB lives in infamy. 

BOB was a graphical shell that ran on top of Windows 3.11 and Windows 95.  It attempted to replace the traditional desktop environment with a visual representation of a house; where all your programs were objects in the house.

It sounds like a nice idea, but it was an abysmal failure in the market place.  As a result very few people actually know about BOB these days, and those that remember it tend to cringe when they hear about it.

I am an ‘Operating System’ enthusiast by nature, so when I first came across Virtual PC from Connectix (I was one of the first people to sign up for the initial beta program for the first version of Virtual PC for Windows) I immediately set about trying every operating system I could find under Virtual PC.  However; I was not able to get my hands on a copy of Microsoft BOB until the Connectix technology was acquired by Microsoft.  One of the first things I did as a new Microsoft employee was to search the file archives, find a copy of BOB, install it under Virtual PC and go: ‘Yes! It works!’ (I then emailed screen shots to my entire team).

In the end we ended up making internal team shirts for Virtual PC which had written on the front ‘What about BOB?’; and on the back ‘BOB has found a new home, Microsoft Virtual PC 2004, Yes – it even runs BOB’.

One of the amusing aspects (to me) about BOB is that everything in the house is a scalable vector object.  This means that you can make some fairly funky changes to the display (as shown in my ‘house burning’ screen shot below):

msbob1msbob2msbob3msbob4

Hmm…Not sure that there is much more that should be said – apart from BOB lives! :-)

Cheers,

Ben

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  • Never saw anyone using Bob :DDD
  • Of course, I'm pretty sure BOB was designed to run on Windows 3.11. I might be wrong, but it seems like a better replacement for Program Manager than the start menu and I thought it was a 16 bit app.

    Have no fear though... when I first joined Microsoft, I too went looking for BOB and I'm proud to say that it still works just fine on Windows XP. BOB is the real reason Microsoft maintains backwards compatibility... that and WEP.
  • Of course Bob lives - he is the animated search character in a default load of XP. Didn't Melinda Gates used to work with the BOB team? I think that's how Bob ended up in XP. Conspiracy! jk ;)
  • Is Bob's dog (does he/she have a name?) the same one showing up in Windows XP search ???
  • Hi,

    I actually remember getting a Presario 486 that came with it... or something VERY similar to it. :)
  • If memory serves, Mr. Gates' wife was in charge of that project.

  • Whew, I was worried that the BOB interface was forever lost to humankind. Thanks for providing this valuable service. It's nice to know that someone there is paying attention to the things that really matter.
  • I seem to remember when I got my Packard Bell back in 1999, it shipped with something very similar running on top of Windows 98, Except without the dog. And the house was a bit more detailed as well.

    I can't really remember how it looked. I (like the rest of the world it seems) hated it, and uninstalled it at the first available opportunity.
  • great information..thanks for sharing.
  • I once heard a story about Bob.

    Supposedly, when Bob saw you goof up your password 3 times in a row (not that Bob's playground was 'secure'), Bob the helpful would offer to help you change it to something else you could remember easier. Can you find out if this a truth or a dare ?

    Mark
  • The reason Rover is still around is because of a pre-nuptial agreement (:')

    http://home.pmt.org/~drose/aw-win3x-16.html
  • Aparently windowsbeta.net also got some screenshots of Bob (And have had for a while). For the curious: http://www.windowsbeta.net/screen/bob/

    Bob was a total failure :>
  • Ryan -

    BOB was released in 1995 for both Windows 3.11 and Windows 95.

    Jeff -

    The old rumor is that Melinda did work on BOB - but I have heard neither confirmation nor denial of that.

    Rolando -

    The dog's name is 'Rover'

    Mark -

    This is correct - get the password wrong three times and it will reset it for you. ROTFL.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • All I can say is that Microsoft Bob stirs my cup of nostalgia. It was back in 1995 when I bought that Micron PC. Bob was not very flexible but I really liked the idea of shelling up the ugly Windows 3.1 with something more friendly along with the butler-like characters.
  • I used BOB when it came out. It was quite cool in the beginning to play with and then it became a pain in the neck. Bob was cute but clumsy.
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