One of the weirdest Microsoft experiments was Microsoft BOB. Its purpose was to make it easier to use your computer and manage your files. In order to do that, Microsoft decided to replace the desktop and explorer by a house with different rooms which contain certain objects, which you click to start programs. This article, for instance, is written in the Letter Writer program (at least until I got freaked out by the dog).

In total there are nine different applications: Calendar, which lets you set important events. It also had tips for every day, one telling you that you should open windows in your car when it gets hot instead of turning the air conditioning on. Another one is Geosafari, a program which tests you on your geographical knowledge of the world. The last one is the Household manager. In this program the user can manage certain aspects of his household, such as the raising of children. Besides the one I’ve named already, BOB also includes an e-mail program, a financial guide, an address book, a checkbook and a clock.

When I first ran BOB, I noticed the childish interface that had been chosen. I guessed that at this point in time the Microsoft team came up with an idea that led to the XP interface. Additionally, the user has a constant help standing on the right bottom of the screen. This made me think of the help that is used in the search menu of Windows XP. They both are dogs by default and very annoying, not to mention unneeded. I myself get distracted from my work by the constant barking and moving of Rover Retriever.

Another thing that bugged me about BOB is the load of questions one must answer in order to be able to use a program. Before I could start typing this article, I had to select a title, a border, the purpose of the letter, and so on. I really don’t see any improvement in usability here.

One advantage of MS BOB is that it doesn’t require a very powerful computer. Eight megabytes of RAM is enough in order to run it properly. It basically has the same requirements as Windows 3.11, the operating system it was built for. On the other hand, it does need about 30 mb on your hard drive. This could well be a problem on older systems with limited disk space.

In my opinion, Microsoft didn’t make usage of your system easier, but actually more complicated by making BOB. I don’t think anyone would need this program in order to be more productive with their Windows 3.x system. But fortunately, Microsoft realized this also and didn’t continue with the development of this program.