Hi Reddit, I'm Davepl and I'm stoked to answer any questions you have about the projects I worked on or about working at Microsoft during the 90s in general. I was on every major operating system from MS-DOS through XP & Server 2003.

My general timeline starts in 1993 on MS-DOS, where I worked on Smartdrv, Doublespace, Setup, Diskcopy, and others.

I soon moved to Windows NT, where I started in RPC/OLE and moved to Windows shell to undertake the port of the Win9X user interface over to Windows NT.

Along the way I worked on our initial version of Media Center, Space Cadet Pinball, Windows Product Activation, and others.

For background info on how I got to Microsoft, the stories of how Task Manager, ZipFolders, and Pinball came to be, and proof (video of my cardkey, office, etc) please check out the following video:


Photo proof (Cardkey, business card, etc): https://pasteboard.co/JFwN4jt.jpg

Comments: 2282 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

Splith3664 karma

Space Cadet Pinball, how does it feel to be the most played "bring your child to work day" game? I remember it fondly.

daveplreddit3560 karma

The best part is that I used to "teach" computer lab when my kids were in K through 6th grades, back when Pinball was still included and well known. The kids could care less about anything technically hard or interesting that I'd worked on, of course, but Pinball gave me instant street cred with them.

Especially cool was being able to walk over and enter a secret code that only I knew that would turn on all the cheats, like infinite lives. They thought I was a wizard at that age!

The code, by the way, is "hidden test" without the quotes! Then various keys do different things, you can click and drag the ball around, and so on. Google it for the gory details!

I always like to point out that I was working with a full set of original IP from Maxis, so I had nothing to do with the design of the game, or it's art, etc... that was all done! My contribution was volunteering to port it, including a partial rewrite from asm to C, to work on MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, IA64, ARM, and so on, which was actually a lot of work. But I got it into the Windows box, which is how and why everyone knows it today. But all credit for the gameplay and so on goes to Maxis, all I did was not screw it up in that case!

Splith850 karma

Damn dude, porting assembly? You are a legend!

daveplreddit900 karma

Thanks - we actually did all of our debugging in assembler. We didn't have any source-level or line-level debugging at all (except as noted below). So you'd connect to a machine through an ssh-like tool and then, if the symbols were right, you could get a callstack and inspect memory, disassemble functions, and so on. But since we spent much of our day staring at assembly, I became reasonably adept at it.

I say "reasonably" as I was lazy enough that I would compile the components of interest to me with Visual Studio PDB symbols so that, if I could repro on my own machine, I could then source-level debug it. That made me fast at some stuff that others were slow at, but I likely never got as proficient at asm debugging as someone who never had an alternative. I had a developer friend named Bob whom was an ntsd (our debugger) superstar, and he'd write expressions inside of breakpoints to fire conditionally, that kind of thing. So I did learn that trick, but I'm sure there were dozens I just never knew.

That all said, we rarely if ever coded in assembly. All coding was in C/C++.

In the Pinball case, parts of the original were written in hand-coded in asm by Maxis, like the sound engine, and wouldn't have had a hope of working on anything but an x86. Rather than be lame and not have sound on the RISC platforms, I opted to rewrite that stuff in C so that it was portable.

The RISC platforms also bring their own set of problems like 32-bit alignment for data. And being on Windows NT (now just "Windows") meant being Unicode, but fortunately there isn't a TON of text in a pinball game!

boytekka127 karma

damn, the only time that I did assembly language is when we tried moving a small machine through the printer port.. I miss those days

LordApocalyptica137 karma

Only time I did assembly was when I wanted to make a game on my TI-84, and decided that I didn't want to.

I miss those days too.

daveplreddit167 karma

First game I wrote in assembly I did in a machine language monitor on my C64. You can't (easily) relocate 6502 so to add code you'd have to jump out, do stuff, and jump back... Crazy!

kgliner616 karma

To add a bit of detail re Space Cadet Pinball: we built Space Cadet originally at my company Cinematronics and did a deal with Microsoft to ship it with the Plus Pack that accompanied Win 95 and Win 98. While it technically didn't ship w/ Windows, the Plus Pack had something like a 25% attach rate and pinball wound up on most systems anyway. Microsoft actually had an option in our original contract from 1994 to ship it with the OS itself or the Plus Pack. Maxis was our publisher for the subsequent retail version, and later bought my company.

More germane to this thread: I believe Dave's port entered the picture a few years later, after Win 98, and was likely critical to pinball continuing to ship on later iterations of the Windows OS (i.e. 32-bit). I definitely appreciate the time he put in to give the game extra years of life on the Windows platform.

Kevin Gliner, game designer and producer for 3D Pinball, and co-founder of Cinematronics.

daveplreddit390 karma

Pleased to FINALLY put a name to the game design! You should update the Wikipedia article for the game, as I think it lists Matt Ridgway, who might have been sound? I've been crediting Maxis for years, not knowing the role of Cinematronics who was who. One thing that confused me: wasn't there a company that did video games in the 80s called Cinematronics? Any relation? Star Castle, Armor Attack, etc...

As for timing, this likely between the Win95 and Win98 Plus! packs. It was very early on at least, and shipped at least in NT4, and perhaps earlier in "SUR" release that ran atop NT 3.51, but I don't have access to any source files to check dates!

kgliner305 karma

I keep meaning to fix that wikipedia article, there's a significant number of people that worked on the game and for some reason only Matt (an independent sound guy who did some excellent part-time contract work for us) is listed. There's also a lot of confusion about the timing of various releases and the companies involved, and who owns it now (EA).

I actually have all the original source, although no rights to any of it anymore.

Hard to say on the timing of the port. I was working in Redmond in '99 when I got word someone had done an NT4 and Win2000 port (I'm assuming that was you), so that was the first time the port showed up on my radar. I have a more confident memory (and contracts, email, etc) of all the events related to how pinball came about and the first couple years after it was released.

I like to think pinball was the very first Win95 game (it was fun to watch Gates and Leno pretend to play it on stage at the Win95 launch event), but of course there were other games that shipped with the launch too.

You're correct, there was an 80s arcade game company called Cinematronics that went out of business long before we started in 1994, and someone had let the trademark lapse. How we came to be called Cinematronics is a long story for another time...

daveplreddit26 karma

Hard to say on the timing of the port. I was working in Redmond in '99 when I got word someone had done an NT4 and Win2000 port (I'm assuming that was you), so that was the first time the port showed up on my radar. I have a more confident memory (and contracts, email, etc) of all the events related to how pinball came about and the first couple years after it was released

NT shipped in 96, so the version I did for it would have been done in 95. I remember working on it about the time Win9X was shipping or in late beta. I could be wrong on that part, but Nov 95 would be my guess.

PunchyMcStabbington43 karma

Just wanted to say thanks for the Alpha port!

daveplreddit91 karma

Alpha AXP was by far the hardest to debug! "Branch later, maybe"

nyrangers301062 karma

After the rise of WinRAR, did you continue to use the trial or did you pay?

daveplreddit3014 karma

From: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])

Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2006 3:14 PM

To: Dave

Subject: Your BuyRAR.com Order #: 122229610 License Key

Attachments: rarkey.rar

My WinRAR order number, from about 15 years ago, is above. And my WinZip license is much older than that. As someone who (a) made their real living in shareware and (b) worked on Product Activation, I'm the kind of guy who always licenses everything! You'll notice in my PlatformIO/"Arduino" video I even walk people through how to contribute to show how easy it is. I love good, cheap software.

OBSTACLE3170 karma

Would you download a car?

daveplreddit459 karma

My wife's Tesla downloads update all the time. I'm sure they're just as complex as the mechanical components of the car, so in a sense, we already do!

Chairs_Are_People65 karma

But... why did you keep the email?

daveplreddit433 karma

I have a folder on my OneDrive called Registrations where I keep copies of license keys and registrations. So it was handy. Looks like Telix is my oldest registration from 1989 or so.

Brian_E1971969 karma

Why is it that I can still find dialogs in Windows 10 that were clearly built using 16 bit Visual Studio 97 version?

daveplreddit2616 karma

This should explain it. When you achieve perfection, you leave it alone:


LivingLikeBender151 karma

Please for the love of God, use your Microsoft contacts to stop the snipping tool from going away. It's literally perfect but they keep trying to discontinue it.

daveplreddit132 karma

One Compound Word: SnagIt. It's what you need to make your life complete.

After my time, but I heard the new snipping and history that's being built in to replace it is pretty good. It better be if they kill snipping tool!

PromoPimp873 karma

I had waited more than 20 years to ask this...

What the fuck is Trumpet Winsock?

daveplreddit671 karma

That's what you need to use TCP/IP on Windows before it was included in Windows. You're welcome.

archetype1626 karma

Hi Dave, thanks for the AmA!

In regards to task manager - often times I have to click the 'end task' button more than once to get the frozen program to actually close. Why is this?

Thanks again.

daveplreddit1586 karma

Remember that, at least in my day, End Task is different than End Process. The former sends a "Please close yourself" message to the app, and if it's hung, it should then detect it and so on, but doesn't always. Imagine the app is in a weird state where it's still pumping messages, it's not hung, but it's broken. End Task likely won't work.

That's when you need End Process, which tears everything down for you. The substantive difference is that the program gets no choice in the matter and no notification. End Task can be graceful. End Process is brutal.

Tekato126149 karma

What about when the task manager stops responding? We need a task manager manager to manage the task manager. Lol

daveplreddit478 karma

I've never seen that happen, ever, unless the system itself or the window manager is bunged in some way. Your puny Task Manager cannot save you now.

Then again, nothing can, save a reboot.

d1g1t4ld00m550 karma

Also what was Microsoft really like back in the 90s? As a user of MS-Dos 3.30 forward till now. I’m assuming there has just been a whole tide of changes.

Was double space really as funny on the dev side as it was on the user side with the slowness and the pufferfish as a logo :)

daveplreddit458 karma

I worked on Doublespace in that I wrote a thunking layer that could live in low memory and then moved the rest of the code into the HMA. I didn't work on the compression, but odds are the guy who did is reading along right now, I bet!

I don't really know if it was faster or slower than its contemporaries like Stacker. I wrote one for the Amiga, though didn't get it quite finished before starting at MS, and it's an interesting and hard problem to do well. At least on the AmigaDOS it was, FAT would be a tad easier.

d1g1t4ld00m97 karma

I mean for its time it was great. But back then floppy disks and 10M RLL-MFM drives were more the norm. It was actually awesome to have it included IN the OS instead of having to buy stacker.

I think this is why I get so much of a kick out of every phishing AD that says download this to double your RAM. It just takes me back.

daveplreddit170 karma

RAM Doublers are a whole 'nother ball of wax. Raymond Chen, in his blog "The Old New Thing", covers them well. If I understand it correctly, in the most famous case the code to do the actual memory compression was disabled, so it literally did nothing, but did it with overhead.

On the other hand, I note that current Windows, the HyperV, and even my Synology NAS offer "Memory Compression" now so perhaps there's a time and a place on modern cpus and systems.

JudgeHoltman481 karma

I'm an Engineer and regularly use MS Office to produce reports and calculations. Subscript and Superscript are something I use all the time.

For at least the last 15 years, in MS Word I can hit "Ctrl +" & "Ctrl Shift +" to make the highlighted text Subscript or Superscript.

But MS Word sucks for calculations, so I use MS Excel. But MS Excel it's about 8 clicks to make something super or subscript, and the hotkey technology hasn't made it in.

So my question is, why was MS Office 2003 the best version of office that was ever produced?

daveplreddit1374 karma

I retired in 2003. Coincidence? I'll leave that one up to the scholars.

johnbmaclemore359 karma

If you could go back and change anything about Windows without consequences or worrying about backwards compatibility, what would it be?

daveplreddit703 karma

Format! I wrote that and since I was used to using the Visual Studio Resource Editor for dialogs, but couldn't in this case, I just laid out a stack of buttons and labels, content in the knowledge that a Program Manager or Designer would come up with a proper design for it that I would then code up. But somehow, no one did, and no one has for 25 years! So it's a big tall stack of buttons like a prairie grain elevator.

insp88337 karma

Asking as someone pretty new in software development, did you experience impostor syndrome? If so, how did you deal with it?

daveplreddit681 karma

My first couple of years were very productive, so I wasn't insecure about my output, but even so I definitely experienced imposter syndrome. I think most people who achieve aspirational roles do... I have a friend who was in the NFL who describes the same feeling.

Being as productive as your peers is sort of the pre-requisite, and if that's true, then remind yourself that when you were in fifth grade, the eighth graders on the playground seemed so old and mature! It's odd in that I started in 1993, but to me anyone who started in the 80s was a "true" Old Timer and remains so in my head to this day. And similarly I'm no doubt the grizzled veteran to people I hired a few years later.

I know when I started I felt like the dumbest guy in the room, and by the end I felt like the smartest guy in the room, and I don't think I'd gotten any smarter along the way. So it's all relative and perception. Well, that and the stock caused some serious attrition of the "really smart"!

I remember visiting Google a couple of years ago in the bathrooms they had posters that read "YOU ARE NOT AN IMPOSTER", and info about seminars and so on about it, so it's very common! I wish I had a concrete strategy for you, but I don't other than "It's commonplace, and I bet there are a ton of resources on the Web. Don't be surprised you're experiencing it!"

Grundy9999299 karma

What are your favorite DOS command-line tricks that still work in Windows 10?

daveplreddit339 karma


Hoodie2Shoes218 karma

What would you encourage someone to start learning today related to your field?

daveplreddit561 karma

I'm learning React at the moment. Let's face it, the web development experience is utter nonsense. So I kept hoping for something that would make it clean, and easy to make components, and to work with REST apis. So I went looking for a solution. Then I read about Angular, and it seemed like "too much" to learn for the sake of making a SPA.

But React seems understandable enough and solves a ton of problems with web development, not the least of which is being able to intermingle HTML and Javascript (via JSX).

As for languages, I'd probably start with Python. I prototyped a complicated LED system a couple of years ago and it was admirable what it could accomplish for an interpreted language. And you probably have to know modern Javascript as well.

Yamamotokaderate194 karma

Now, would you be rather interested in working for windows, macos or linux ?

daveplreddit492 karma

I work in all three. For my own projects I write to the ASP.NET Core 3.1, and that's available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I originally wrote my LED server to it under MacOS, then moved it to Windows with about 5 minutes of changes (related to the consoles being somewhat different). Then I moved it to Linux, where I made it work and then containerized it with Docker. I got it up and running on my Raspberry Pi and in a Windows HyperV and under WSL using Ubuntu. To me that kind of stuff is super cool.

Once I had it working in a Docker container I deployed it to my Synology NAS, which is some variant of Linux. So my NAS runs my Christmas lights!

I love stuff like that when it works!

My main workstation is a Dell monitor that has an internal KVM. I have a 2013 Mac Pro connected to it, which is maxed out and then has an eGPU and eRAID setup via Thunderbolt. And then I have a 3970X Windows PC connected as well, and I can jump back and forth with a button.

I spend most of my day in Windows now, unless it's video related, in which case I use Final Cut Pro.

kakurenbo1162 karma

What actually happens if someone deletes Win32?

daveplreddit570 karma

Human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Do not attempt.

Westpak00153 karma

If every software you need would be available for both systems. Would you use a Linux distribution or Windows 10?

daveplreddit357 karma

Right now I'd use Windows 10 because, if the same client software is available, I'd do it on Windows simply because I have a new 3970X w/ 128G of RAM and triple RAID0 SSDs plus an Optane stick. All for about 1/10th the price of a Mac Pro. Since the hardware is so cheap and powerful, it's really hard to resist.

Even if all the client software were magically available, or Parallels for Linux were a thing, I'd stick with Windows because I haven't seen a Linux UI that I really like. I know everyone has a favorite... if there's an actually good and attractive one that works out of the box, let me know what distro, and maybe link a screenshot!

CIA_grade_LSD150 karma

Why does the file transfer time remaining progress bar start at like 15 hours and then drop to two minutes and then stick at 99% for five minutes?

(An exaggeration I admit. I know you and your colleagues do your best, but I am curious why this hasnt gotten much more accurate over the years.)

androidethic62 karma

Yes, we need a justification as to why the windows file operation estimations are so random/inaccurate!

daveplreddit246 karma

They're the worst estimate out there, except for all the others.

Mac is just as bad. It's a hard problem. I worked on it briefly, and to help solve it I kept track of the average time it had taken for a whole range of operations, like creating, moving, deleting, renaming a file, or moving a block of N bytes, etc. Then multiply by the number of those operations that remain. But even that can be wildly off in degenerate cases.

Owlstorm134 karma

What cool new tech are you excited about?

daveplreddit401 karma

Right now I'm actually trying to productize something of my own, a system for doing hidden, permanently-installed LED holiday lighting. It receives the effect entirely over WiFi, or it can fall back to built-in effects and so on. Quick demo from 4th of July here:


I'm done the software on the ESP32 and on the desktop, and working on the phone app now. So the next step is to find someone to manufacture the actual addressable LED strip fixtures. They'd be like under-counter LED strips that snap together end to end, but weatherproof, and with WS2813 LEDs internally.

In terms of stuff that I'm just benefitting from, the latest CPUs from AMD are amazing. I have the 32-core 3970X and the raw computing power is hard to comprehend. That you can buy a 32-core chip for $2K (or 64-core for $4K) amazes me! Now I need to learn AI or something to make use of all of that hardware...

Henster2015119 karma

Ever met Bill Gates or have an interesting personal experience with him or another higher up you can share?

daveplreddit270 karma

Yes, even when I was a new college hire he had the 30 of us or so over for beer and a burger in his back yard. It was a nice touch and quite informal. Obviously, at some scale, it wasn't 30 people anymore and they couldn't continue it!

Ever play the video game Star Castle? It was like that. Concentric circles of people standing around BillG each armed with what they hope is a question or comment so clever they'll stand out in some way!

JshLnsctt111 karma

What was the idea behind having "generic" activation keys starting in Windows XP that would activate any version, it was said they were for [educational purposes], did Microsoft provide them to 501c3/non-profit schools, or was there a different reasoning?

daveplreddit95 karma

I'm not sure what you mean by "generic". I remember retail and oem, but what was a generic key?

JshLnsctt71 karma

There was a set of keys that became public knowledge partway through XP life that appeared to activate unlimited machines as valid, though added a banner "For Educational Purposes Only". I remember trying it back in the day and always wondered what the intention was that was important enough the key activations were never blocked. [I did have multiple legal keys, but curiosity killed the cat and I had to swap one to the "educational" key to see for myself, lol]

daveplreddit80 karma

I don't actually know! But I can surmise that if it was displaying a banner down in the bottom right corner of the screen, it knew it was not licensed and was likely limited or time-limited in some way. Unless you could actually ACTIVATE them with that key, which would surprise me.

wirsteve107 karma

What was the inspiration for Space Cadet Pinball and what is your high score?

daveplreddit221 karma

I don't know, I wasn't the designer, the inspiration part happened separate, I provided the perspiration part! I was actually pretty good at the game, since I was literally paid to play and test it... but I don't know the score, sorry! I do have the world high score on Tempest, though! But not Pinball :-)

OathOfFeanor100 karma

Other than your personal phone number, did any Easter eggs make it to general availability?

daveplreddit94 karma

There was one in the Win9X shell, but I think we removed it for Windows XP and later. So not that I'm aware of!

10000_Spoons_Irony89 karma

  1. What's something super useful within Task Manager you think even seasoned Windows users don't know they can do?
  2. What do you think a future version of Task Manager should be able to do?

daveplreddit380 karma

I think CTRL_SHIFT_ESC is a surprise to a lot of people!

I think Task Manager needs Dark Mode, and a way to show who has locked what file or device so you can kill the offender when needed.

Phombus88 karma

I am looking at my copy of Douglas Coupland's "microserfs". Although it's fiction, do you think it resembles the Microsoft Culture of the time?

daveplreddit191 karma

Lord no, that book bugged me. On the one hand, they're a bunch of pretentious and precocious, annoying kids. I worked on a team (NT) where the tone was set by Dave Cutler and the guys he brought over from Digital, so it was rather different. On the other hand, it's such a big company that odds are those four main people DID exist somewhere in the company. Just not around me!

kaevondong81 karma

Thanks for task manager! I use it for so many things.

How do you feel about newer versions of Windows de-emphasizing the control panel in favor of their new settings app?

daveplreddit208 karma

I'm all for it if they made sure they had 100% coverage of all settings. It's sort of weird that in this day and age, with an R&D budget in the billions, we still have a mix of new control panel and old property pages. But I like the new stuff if it covered all cases!

ToiletRollTubeGuy75 karma

How do you introduce yourself at parties?

daveplreddit386 karma

"Does anyone here know how to update my Groove subscription on my Zune?"

_craq_67 karma

Why was (is) a monolithic registry preferred over distributing the settings in a number of files like Unix?

Why did windows remain single-user focused for so long when Unix was multi-user since the 70s? In my understanding, if there is just one user, that user has to be admin which opened Windows up to security issues. (I don't even recall any sudo-like privilege escalation in pre-XP Windows.)

daveplreddit125 karma

Windows NT was multiluser from birth. And there's nothing about the Windows architecture that requires users to be admin; the reality, I think, is that most apps started out in Win95 land and just didn't work if they were run as non-admin, so people ran as admin because the apps required it.

We couldn't just break all those apps and say "Oh well, get better apps" so what you got was a convention of people running as admin. But again, there's no need to. Same as Unix.

The one exception is that under Unix it's easy to sudo and so admin work briefly. I wish Windows had (or exposed) a simpler mechanism for letting me run as a non-admin credential and escalate when needed. I know UAC does the same thing, more or less, if used cautiously.

shopdog55 karma

Is it true that you and Dave Cutler got into a knife fight over a hand of poker gone bad?

daveplreddit208 karma

A broken bottle is not a knife.

SnewLooperd52 karma

Tabs or spaces?

daveplreddit103 karma

Spaces on an indent of 4, tabs set to 8.

zetikla51 karma

Have you ever wanted to make a "sequel" to Space Cadet?

daveplreddit79 karma

There are actually two other tables available in the original Maxis game that should work, in theory, but I think Space Cadet was the best of the 3, so...

Scirocco-MRK142 karma

Were there ever any 3rd party edit/change to shell that made you think, "Why didn't we think of that?"

daveplreddit87 karma

Not offhand, but "Stacks" on MacOS where it tries to rescue your mess by grouping things by filetype (Images, Docs, etc) is pretty clever. So that's something I wish we'd though of!

grahamsz35 karma

How does OLE still work? I can't think of anything else that complex and old that still runs.

We've got a legacy piece in our application that uses it and I can build against it using .net 4.0, in an Azure pipeline and deploy to windows 10 hosts and a piece of 90s technology still works perfectly.

How and why?

daveplreddit42 karma

It was complex, but pretty well written and very well tested. That's not to say there aren't a lot of bugs outside the common case codepaths, but I bet if Office used it, it's pretty solid, and will be forever.

onepoint21ghz34 karma

Did you ever get a chance to work in/on OS/2? I stuck with OS/2 until 2005/2006, before moving onto Linux, and would love to hear any opinions and stories you might have.

daveplreddit62 karma

I didn't! I used OS/2 a bit but never had a chance to work on it. Many of the people I worked with did, though... but if OS/2 were Kevin Bacon, I'm one degree removed.

_AutomaticJack_30 karma

Have you worked at all with Bryce Cogswell and Mark Russinovich??
Also, what was your initial response to Process Explorer /the Sysinternals stuff??

daveplreddit55 karma

No, but the SysInternal guys are geniuses of the highest order, so far as I'm concerned (and I say that based on their products, no knowing them). They know their stuff.

coryrenton29 karma

What is the best project you worked on or had friends work on that was canceled, that you would revive if you had the resources?

daveplreddit58 karma

Windows Media Center, I'd say! And I wish they'd done a great AutoPC that the OEMs could have licensed and made common to most cars.

cizzlewizzle28 karma

Did Bill ever swing by your cubicle and tell you'd he'd take your assignment home and finish it in a weekend if you didn't hurry up?

daveplreddit98 karma

Cubicle? It was the 90s at Microsoft! I had a corner office with a table, chairs, a Tempest machine, and a sofabed.

wrongwaycorrigan26 karma

Was DoubleSpace stolen from Stacker?

daveplreddit60 karma

No. As I understand it, DoubleSpace was licensed from an Israeli developer. Then I heard that Stacker had somehow been awarded a patent on using a hash table in compression, which sounds pretty ludicrous if true. There was a trial, and even though it revolved around hash tables and math and compression engines, and no one on the jury had been to college, as I heard it. So the big guy lost. That's the story I heard, your mileage may vary. I'm not a spokesman, etc.

bruzie10 karma

MS-DOS 6.21, the most useless version. I remember writing an extra "2" on my 6.2 OEM disks when the update came out (no point wasting disks).

daveplreddit59 karma

You say "useless", I say "canonical".

I think I actually worked on 6.22, not sure. It was 6.2 something. In terms of usefulness, the features I added to it personally were:

- Moving Doublespace to HMA to free up a lot of low mem, as noted

- Giving Diskcopy ability to do it in a single pass with no swaps

- I wrote a new version of Smartdrv that added CD-ROM support

- I wrote a special version of Setup that worked via deltas and put everything on a single floppy (no point wasting disks).

Mind you, I was just a summer intern when I did that, and it took me about 3 months.

realfirehazard20 karma

Hello Dave!

Why does Windows have such a rough time transferring a lot of small files? Is it a limitation of NTFS?

daveplreddit76 karma

It's not Windows, it's all operating systems. Part of it is filesystem related:

Imagine copying a file takes 200ms of overhead plus 10ms per MB. Coping 100M of large files will take 200ms + 1000ms = 1.2 seconds.

Now imagine you have 100M of 1M files. Now you have 100*200ms + 1000ms = 20000ms or 20 seconds. 20 times as long for the same amount of data.

zxyabcuuu15 karma

Is there a hidden Easter Egg of Dave Plummer in a program, which we don‘t know? 😀

daveplreddit63 karma

No, I never put a true easter egg in anything. Especially in an operating system, I don't believe in them. You have to be able to trust the OS, and I think it goes against that.

coryrenton4 karma

What are your best/oddest purchases you were able to justify as a work expense (for example, were you able to get MS to buy pinball machines as an R&D cost)?

daveplreddit3 karma

I had DirecTv in my office! I was working on the Media Center prototype and we couldn't get cable on campus, so I got the dish installed on the roof, etc....

I had a Tempest machine in my Office but at my own expense. I started right around the days of the "shrimp vs weenies" memo, so they were pretty cost conscious.

truthpit2 karma

How can I open an MS Binder file?

daveplreddit6 karma

Push down on the metal tabs at the top and bottom of the central spine of the binder. That will release the 3-hole punch claws, and then you can remove your printed file.

Spedly2 karma

Did you work with Kris Hatleid on Super Hacker and the game Evolution?

daveplreddit6 karma

I worked with Kris on an unreleased title called "Commander Video". That's largely where I learned assembly language, since he did the bulk of the coding, I watched and did level design, etc. 1982 or so I believe!

Joncka2 karma

Why was Ctrl + Alt + Delete changed to Ctrl + Shift + Escape?

daveplreddit8 karma

It wasn't! Ctrl-Alt-Delete raises the "Secure Alert Sequence" which triggers the OS to switch to the secure desktop, where you have the ability to click a button which will start task manager upon return to your regular desktop.

Ctrl-Shift-Esc is a feature built into Winlogon that launches a TaskManager on the current desktop without switching to the secure desktop.

There are theoretically hacks and exploits that can only be caught by switching to the secure desktop, so if you're ever in doubt, ctrl-alt-del is the more secure way to go.

onetwopi2 karma

What OS are you using now? What's your favorite OS of all time? What's the worst OS of all time? What's the worst Microsoft OS (if different)?

daveplreddit8 karma

The best OS of all time was Windows NT 4.0 with the Shell Update Release.

The worst OS of all time was the TRS-80 Model 1, Level 1 DOS that didn't have the keyboard debounce code in ROM yet so you couldn't even type on the thing.

Atmosck0 karma

Why has windows task manager never had a true force quit?

daveplreddit5 karma

End Process is a true force quit.