Interview with an Ex-Microsoftie.

—So, you used to work at Microsoft?

—Yep sure. I used to come up with names for all the special folders.

—The special folder names in Windows?


—"Program Files", is that one of yours?

—Sure is. I thought, "This is where we'll put the programs. On the file system. And since they're gonna be made out of files, I'll stick the word "Files" on the end. With a space in the middle. People are going to be typing this all the time, so they'll want it to be as long and descriptive as possible."

—And what about System32 is that yours?

—Yep. I thought, "these files are 32 bit files. So I'll put them here."

—And that was pretty successful?

—Yes. I did such a good job naming it System32, that nowadays it contains all the 64 bit files as well.

—Then what happens to the 32 bit version of the 64 bit files. Where do they go?

—Well they can't go in System32, because on a 64 bit machine, System32 is where the 64 bit files go. So if we're running a 32 bit executable we lie to the executable and tell it that "System32" points at another folder, called SysWOW64 and that's where we stick the 32 bit files.

—Why is there a 'WOW' in the middle of the name?

—I was typing System64 and half way through I just thought: "WOW, nature is beautiful!"

—And the 32 bit files, they go in SysWOW64, since the 64 bit files are in System32?

—Yep. (Laughing) Oh I took a lot of meth that day, my friend.

—And how about the "users" folder. That's quite succinct, is that one of yours?

—Oh no, that's after my time. I was there for the previous one: "Document and settings."

—Surely you regret that name. It's clearly too long?

—Too long!? It's too short. Do you realize you can put anything in there, not just documents and settings? I wanted to call it "Documents and settings and ideas and lists and notes and string and ponies and candy and pieces of fluff and temporary internet files and stuff". I got into a fist fight with Ray Chen over it and I only let him have his way when Steve Ballmer sat on me.

—And you're retired now?

—I am now. (He takes a long swig from a bottle of whiskey. The brown fluid gurgles as it rushes down the neck of the bottle.) At one time I tried to get a job on the team that comes up with version numbers.

—You missed out?

—Not drunk enough. Not even close.

deep discussion at hacker news →



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