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Definition: Microsoft Bob


An alternate interface for Windows from Microsoft that was designed for people afraid of computers. Introduced in 1996, Bob came with a word processor, checkbook and other home-oriented utilities. Rather than the desktop metaphor, Bob used household rooms decorated with familiar objects. There was even a selection of outdoor scenes visible through the windows in the house. The dog Rover provided online help.

Too Cutesy
Bob never became popular because it was downright silly, treating people as if they were infants. Even the name Bob was chosen because surveys claimed it was friendly. But instead of refining the Windows interface, designers went to the other extreme. People were, and still are, afraid of computers because the menus are too complicated. The only help novices ever needed and still need is a separate beginner's menu with limited choices, not turning the desktop into a house.






The Public Family Room
This family room was Bob's startup screen. Clicking the calendar launched the calendar program; clicking the $ box opened a financial guide and so on. The windows in Microsoft Bob were not application windows. They were views looking out the window from the house (top). Words such as "Looky" were meant to be friendly but were just plain infantile. (Images courtesy of Dan Rose.)