Long live Microsoft Bob

Dan Rose's 20th Century Abandonware site remembers commercial software "from a time not quite forgotten," offering descriptions, screen shots, and other details on 1,400 programs.

The encyclopedic Microsoft Bob page includes a list of programs where Bob's "social interface" lives on in spite of the program's ignominious demise:

Microsoft appears determined to make sure we never forget Bob. Since 1996, Microsoft has taken every opportunity to include Bob's legacy into their successful products -- Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows XP, and MSN Messenger to name a few.

I own Bob, the Bob Plus Pack, Great Greetings for Bob and the only two computer books written for the software: At Home With Bob and Microsoft Bob. Near as I can tell, I'm the only technology writer who believes that Bob was a great idea that could have become a successful user interface for children and technophobes.


Greetings Mr. Cadenhead,

I just wanted to drop a short note to say thank you very much for your kind commentary about my Web site and my Microsoft Bob Web page.

While my Microsoft Bob page does not promote the use of Bob, I can appreciate your perspective on this intriguing software and I personally find it fascinating to explore.

Thanks again!

Dan Rose
Webmaster: Dan's 20th. Century Abandownare

I got a copy of Bob... yellow smiling face and all. It was an idea whose time has long come. I wish more users were prevented from hurting their computer.

I LOVE MS BOB. I can clearly see why techies would trash it -- I can even understand Dave's point when he says people were paying close to three grand for a computer when the program was available and those computer buyers may have seen the program as game-ish. Still, I find it a nice break from the usual business-world applications -- it's just plain FUN! Cheryl

One of my uncs must've decided to buy MS Bob here in the uk a long, long time ago for £8 ($15 approx) thinking it was a usedul business application. Failing to suffice for their business needs i caught hold of it.

Anyway it worked on my old computer with windows XP, but doesnt work with my new Dell pc...dunno why...anyone have any suggestions?

Way back when, I worked at Egghead Software trying to sell Microsoft Bob. The learning curve for Bob was about the same as for other apps. Instead of associating the word "Notepad" and its blue icon with an app that lets you write notes, you had to associate the more detailed image of a notepad with that same app. Is that easier to remember? It's certainly easier than remembering DOS commands, but by the time Microsoft Bob came around, command line was almost entirely unnecessary for inexperienced users.

Aside from the concept of the product, there was a fatal flaw: Microsoft Bob targeted inexperienced computer users, but its rich GUI required a top-of-the-line computer. New computer users don't buy top-of-the-line computers.

Could a product like Bob be more successful now that the cheapest computers can run its GUI perfectly? I doubt it; a much larger portion of the population has received basic education in how to work computers. I think the window of opportunity has passed.

I received a copy of it with my brand new Gateway 2000 Pentium 200MHz tower PC in October of 1996. I have since lost BOB (and dumped it long ago). This software was so bad, it actually made me mad at how insulting it was. It was a pain to get to anything and not productive at all! Death to BOB! And "Sir" Billy BOB rewarded Melinda French for this disaster by marrying her? Hmmmm.

I think Microsoft Bob was too advanced for 1995, I used it and loved it and from time to time I keep on browing to see if it will ever come back. I miss it, I could never find something that could replace it and I am still waiting for this software to come back for Windows XP or later.
I think it was "the best" easy to use, very complete, nice, etc. But I also think that 1995 was too soon to be put in the market.
What can I do to have it back for my Windows XP?
Thanks for your article
Ludovica from Chile

microsoft bob, is an excellent idea, very original.
more attractive than a flat desktop... :/

i hope microsoft will release a similar program for windows xp.

Ive got a copy of bob, and many people say that it can work on XP but mine doesnt (16 bit subplatform error message comes up). I love those apps, I want them back. If anyone can help me...

if you want ms bob to work in windows xp, if the message comes up, click ignore or right click on the ms bob icon,choose compatability then set it to windows 95

Microsoft BOB is awesome! You can download Microsoft BOB for free. All you need to do is go to Google and type keywords: Download Microsoft BOB. It's about 16MB so it's not that big. Be sure to run it in Compatibility Mode for XP and Vista users!

Be sure to visit my site at www.goradionow.piczo.com


I have used MS Bob's Household ManagerVideo Collection for 14 years to catalog & print my movie collection. Recently, Household Manager stopped working; this was just after I'd changed from AVG Antivirus to McAfee. Other programs with Bob still work.

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