For those of you that have been using computers since the 1990’s, you’ll likely remember a number of Easter Eggs embedded into a range of Microsoft applications. But do you remember all of them? This post will take you on a trip down memory lane to a time before the Trustworthy Computing Initiative of 2002, which saw Microsoft stop making the treats.
MICROSOFT BEAR (Windows 3.1 & 95)
More than just a tangible mascot of the team, Microsoft Bear made several appearances throughout Windows applications.
Remember this little guy. His drawing was used as part of the SETDEBUG.EXE & JBGMGR system files.
Windows 3.1 also saw Microsoft Bear make two appearances, first as part of the fictitious file BEAR.EXE and another presenting the aliases of the development team in the About Program Manager: BRADSI, BILLG, STEVEB and of course T-BEAR (bonus points for guessing the other team members’ real names).
MICROSOFT BUNNY (WINDOWS 95)
That’s right, Windows had more than one Mascot, in-fact they had three in 1995 – two bunnies and one bear. The bunnies were aptly named 16-bit bunny and 32-bit bunny. More than just a couple of nerdy names, they represented Windows 95 being “the transitional OS”.
Typing ILOVEBUNNY32=1 under the Windows section of win.ini unlocked some pretty snazzy features, including full window drag and anti-aliased fonts.
WORD FOR WINDOWS 2.1
Not so fluffy, Windows 2.1 featured a WordPerfect Monster, a fireworks display and credit list in the About box. Here’s how to get that cool monster on your screen:
OFFICE 4.3 / 95 / 97
Open the “Help” file in any of these versions of Office and be amazed by some random quotes, including:
- Plaid shirts and striped pants rarely make a positive fashion statement
- It’s never too late to learn the piano
- You should never look directly into the sun
- This is the last tip (Is anyone else singing along?)
Things got exciting in 1997 and procrastination became an even easier skill to practice thanks to three Easter Eggs designed for game enthusiasts and time wasters Worldwide.
Excel contained a hidden flight simulator for curious minds, whereas Word 97 Pinball was a global hit amongst Office users. Perhaps our favourite though was the magic 8 ball found in Access, so popular that it also made an appearance in Office 2000.
Dev Hunter, a 3D spy game based on classic arcade racer Spy Hunter, hidden within Excel 2000 wasn’t available to everyone and DirectX needed to be installed for it to run. But if you were lucky enough to have run the program, you’ll have been treated to some bizarre, Office 4.3 style “quotes”, here are a few of them:
- SO YOUR NAME IS MISSPELLED WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT
- CIRCLES ARE GOOD BUT THEYRE (sic) NOT RECTANGLES
- MALICIOUS PIXIES
- LAST BUT NOT LEAST BUT ALSO NOT COMPRESSED HAM
For whatever reason, Microsoft seemed to get some sort of kick out of having a completely useless last tip (are you still singing along?).
WINDOWS EASTER EGGS
Great, a list of all the volcanoes in the US, just what we all needed to know. Thankfully, all versions of MS Windows OS preceding XP show this comprehensive list in the 3D text screensaver.
What’s better than a list of Win95 developers hidden as an Easter Egg? An animated presentation complete with funky soundtrack of course. Windows 98 also contains a credit screen Egg, sadly it’s not quite as exciting as the 95 version.
Here’s one we bet you didn’t find. The Windows 95 pipe screensaver included the Utah teapot in place of the standard joint bend, of course you had to be pretty specific in the settings. Pipes needed to be multiple and standard style, joint type must be multiple and texture solid.
Windows 2000 / XP
The developers at Microsoft seemed to have a soft spot for the pipes screensaver. An undocumented texture hidden away allowed the pipes to change to barber shop stripes. Hairdressers across the globe must have gone crazy for that one right? Umm, perhaps.
Bored with losing all the time? For those in the know, the pinball game featured in 2000 & XP versions of Windows included some pretty nifty cheats. A series of keyboard shortcuts could see you shoot to the top of the leaderboard or enjoy an endless game, here’s how:
- “H” – instant high score
- “R” – increase rank
- “M” – system memory
- “Y” – frame rate
- “1max” – extra ball
- “gmax” – created a gravity well
- “rmax” – go up a rank
- “bmax” – unlimited balls for an endless game
A staple favourite of MS and time wasters everywhere, Minesweeper was also treated to an Easter Egg in 2000 & XP versions. Typing “xyzzy” and pressing enter simultaneously at the beginning of a game allowed you to see where all of the mines were. Black squares represented a mine was underneath and a white one, that there wasn’t. Not the biggest fan of Minesweeper, I can only imagine this was the most boring gaming experience ever.
Super tiny faces of the MS anti-piracy team were included on the surface of the Window’s Vista installation CD. Spotted by the eager eyes of Spanish blogger, Kwisatz, you can read more on this post by Computer World.
If you were lucky enough to be running IE in the noughties (and let’s be honest – who wasn’t), you could get a kick out of typing “about:Mozilla” in the address bar. A blank blue screen, symbolic of the blue screen of death would appear. Hilarious.
WINDOWS 95 & BEYOND
Pictures of everyone involved in the Hover project are displayed upon completing the introductory level of Hover. A game which first appeared on the Windows 95 installation CD and is still going strong 18 years later, wow I feel old.You can still play today, give it a go.
What’s your favourite Easter Egg? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below, unless it’s the Minesweeper one, seriously.
We don’t offer training on any of these Easter Eggs but we do offer training on Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access and more besides. Check our London training courses page for more details.