Edo the Reliable ("Amin")

Microsoft Windows 2009 Update Resurrects Rover, the Yellow Dog

In Design flops, General GUI on March 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm

So this morning I agreed to a Microsoft Windows Update, and now I have a new  “Windows Search” black-plastic-handle magnifying glass tray icon (see right). It opens a brand new “Windows Search” page which aims to  integrate  desktop and web search.

The old, non-indexing Windows desktop search had a  wooden-handle magnifying glass “Search” icon sitting in the start menu (see right). That wooden-handle icon used to lead to a “Search Companion” page with annoying animated dogs and stuff which I used to kick out of Windows at every fresh install. But now, the functionality of the wooden-handle search has changed: it now leads to a variation of “Windows Search”, but with the dead yellow dog reappearing at the bottom of the window, as if saying: “HI! Remember me? The dog you had ‘canceled’?”

Get Off My Bed

Rover is an old dog, born around Windows 3.1. Although somewhat attached to this heavily patented canine and other animated critters, Microsoft did provide Windows XP users with the option to hide all screen characters; exercising this option is a dance I did with every XP installation. Now, Microsoft revokes the previously offered option. To revive Rover, Windows XP overrides my preferences it previously prompted me for. Microsoft, when I said “I want to use Search Companion without an animated screen character”, what word didn’t you get?

Promoting previously-declined features  (images of semi-clad agents whispering “can I interest you in formatting the disk anyway, wink wink?”) may be a bad idea, but in this case, we have history.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Rover’s lineage extends to 1995 and he’s been part of Microsoft Bob, a product Steve Balmer said “is one project we had undertaken … where we decided that we have not succeeded and let’s stop” (Wikipedia).

Rover even has patent history. As Technologizer.com remarked while documenting Microsoft animated characters patents has noted,

“Of all the peculiar ideas that Microsoft has pursued over its almost 34 years in business, I can’t think of many that are more inexplicable than its long-standing interest in using animated characters to provide help to users of its software products–an aberration best known in the form of Clippy, the “Office Assistant” paperclip who was introduced in Office 97 and only departed the scene completely when the company released Office 2008 for the Mac a year ago.”

Microsoft’s screen animations are so notoriously obnoxious that people have constructed prank applications based on them (e.g., Clippy v1.00 in http://www.rjlsoftware.com/software/entertainment/clippy/).

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