Topic: Microsoft Windows/Computing
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Windows 3.1 beta crashed on 3rd-party DOS
The AARD code was a segment of code in a beta release of Microsoft Windows 3.1 that would determine whether Windows was running on MS-DOS or PC DOS, rather than a competing workalike such as DR-DOS, and would result in a cryptic error message in the latter case. This XOR-encrypted, self-modifying, and deliberately obfuscated machine code used a variety of undocumented DOS structures and functions to perform its work, and appeared in the installer, WIN.COM, and several other executables in the OS.
The AARD code was originally discovered by Geoff Chappell on 17 April 1992 and then further analyzed and documented in a joint effort with Andrew Schulman. The name was derived from Microsoft programmer Aaron R. Reynolds (1955–2008), who used "AARD" to sign his work; "AARD" was found in the machine code of the installer. Microsoft disabled the AARD code for the final release of Windows 3.1, but did not remove it, so that it could have become reactivated later by the change of a single byte in an installed system, thereby constituting a "smoking gun".
DR-DOS publisher Digital Research released a patch named "business update" in 1992 to enable the AARD tests to pass on its operating system.
The rationale for the AARD code came to light when internal memos were released during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case in 1999. Internal memos released by Microsoft revealed that the specific focus of these tests was DR-DOS. At one point, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sent a memo to a number of employees, reading "You never sent me a response on the question of what things an app would do that would make it run with MS-DOS and not run with DR-DOS. Is there [sic] feature they have that might get in our way?" Microsoft Senior Vice President Brad Silverberg later sent another memo, stating: "What the [user] is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is DR-DOS and then go out to buy MS-DOS."
Following the purchase of DR-DOS by Novell and its renaming to "Novell DOS", Microsoft Co-President Jim Allchin stated in a memo, "If you're going to kill someone there isn't much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger."
What had been DR-DOS changed hands again. The new owner, Caldera, Inc., began a lawsuit against Microsoft over the AARD code, Caldera v. Microsoft, which was later settled. It was believed that the settlement ran in the order of $150 million, but was revealed in November 2009 with the release of the Settlement Agreement to be $280 million.
- "AARD Code" | 2020-09-27 | 13 Upvotes 2 Comments
- "Windows 3.1 beta crashed on 3rd-party DOS" | 2015-09-17 | 11 Upvotes 4 Comments
“Bush hid the facts” bug
Bush hid the facts is a common name for a bug present in some versions of Microsoft Windows, which causes text encoded in ASCII to be interpreted as if it were UTF-16LE, resulting in garbled text. When the string "Bush hid the facts", without newline or quotes, was put in a new Notepad document and saved, closed, and reopened, the nonsensical sequence of Chinese characters "畂桳栠摩琠敨映捡獴" would appear instead.
While "Bush hid the facts" is the sentence most commonly presented on the Internet to induce the error, the bug can be triggered by many strings with letters and spaces in the same positions, for example "hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh". Other sequences trigger the bug as well, including even the text "a ".
The bug occurs when the string is passed to the Win32 charset detection function
IsTextUnicode sees that the bytes match the UTF-16LE encoding of valid (if nonsensical) Chinese Unicode characters, concludes that the text is valid UTF-16LE Chinese and returns
true, and the application then incorrectly interprets the text as UTF-16LE.
The bug had existed since
IsTextUnicode was introduced with Windows NT 3.5 in 1994, but was not discovered until early 2004. Many text editors and tools exhibit this behavior on Windows because they use
IsTextUnicode to determine the encoding of text files. As of Windows Vista, Notepad has been modified to use a different detection algorithm that does not exhibit the bug, but
IsTextUnicode remains unchanged in the operating system, so any other tools that use the function are still affected.
- "“Bush Hid the Facts”" | 2021-05-15 | 206 Upvotes 33 Comments
- "The "Bush hid the facts" bug" | 2015-12-08 | 139 Upvotes 28 Comments
Microsoft's Chrome was the code name for a set of APIs that allowed DirectX to be easily accessed from user-space software, including HTML. Launched with some fanfare in early 1998, Chrome, and the related Chromeffects, was re-positioned several times before being canceled only a few months later in a corporate reorganization. Throughout its brief lifespan, the product was widely derided as an example of Microsoft's embrace, extend and extinguish strategy of ruining standards efforts by adding options that only ran on their platforms.
- "Microsoft Chrome" | 2016-10-27 | 148 Upvotes 50 Comments
Microsoft Comic Chat
Microsoft Comic Chat (later Microsoft Chat, but not to be confused with Windows Chat, or WinChat) is a graphical IRC client created by Microsoft, first released with Internet Explorer 3.0 in 1996. Comic Chat was developed by Microsoft Researcher David Kurlander, with Microsoft Research's Virtual Worlds Group and later a group he managed in Microsoft's Internet Division.
- "Microsoft Comic Chat" | 2019-11-13 | 192 Upvotes 64 Comments
_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in an operating system from Microsoft in 1999. The variable contained a 1024-bit public key; such keys are used in cryptography for encryption and authentication. Due to the name it was speculated that the key was owned by the United States National Security Agency (the NSA) which would allow the intelligence agency to subvert any Windows user's security. Microsoft denied the speculation and said that the key's name came from the NSA being the technical review authority for U.S. cryptography export controls.
The key was discovered in a Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation.
- "_NSAKEY" | 2022-01-29 | 15 Upvotes 1 Comments
- "_NSAKEY" | 2020-01-14 | 254 Upvotes 109 Comments
- "Microsoft _NSAKEY" | 2019-01-03 | 18 Upvotes 2 Comments
- "_NSAKEY (1999)" | 2013-07-12 | 8 Upvotes 10 Comments
Resilient File System (ReFS), codenamed "Protogon", is a Microsoft proprietary file system introduced with Windows Server 2012 with the intent of becoming the "next generation" file system after NTFS.
ReFS was designed to overcome problems that had become significant over the years since NTFS was conceived, which are related to how data storage requirements had changed. The key design advantages of ReFS include automatic integrity checking and data scrubbing, removal of the need for running chkdsk, protection against data degradation, built-in handling of hard disk drive failure and redundancy, integration of RAID functionality, a switch to copy/allocate on write for data and metadata updates, handling of very long paths and filenames, and storage virtualization and pooling, including almost arbitrarily sized logical volumes (unrelated to the physical sizes of the used drives).
These requirements arose from two major changes in storage systems and usage – the size of storage in use (large or massive arrays of multi-terabyte drives now being fairly common), and the need for continual reliability. As a result, the file system needs to be self-repairing (to prevent disk checking from being impractically slow or disruptive), along with abstraction or virtualization between physical disks and logical volumes.
ReFS was initially added to Windows Server 2012 only, with the aim of gradual migration to consumer systems in future versions; this was achieved as of Windows 8.1. The initial versions removed some NTFS features, such as disk quotas, alternate data streams, and extended attributes. Some of these were re-implemented in later versions of ReFS.
In early versions (2012–2013), ReFS was similar to or slightly faster than NTFS in most tests, but far slower when full integrity checking was enabled, a result attributed to the relative newness of ReFS. Pre-release concerns were also voiced by one blogger over Storage Spaces, the storage system designed to underpin ReFS, which reportedly could fail in a manner that prevented ReFS from recovering automatically.
The ability to create ReFS volumes was removed in Windows 10's 2017 Fall Creators Update for all editions except Enterprise and Pro for Workstations.
The cluster size of a ReFS volume is either 4 KiB or 64 KiB.
Universal Disk Format
Universal Disk Format (UDF) is a profile of the specification known as ISO/IEC 13346 and ECMA-167 and is an open vendor-neutral file system for computer data storage for a broad range of media. In practice, it has been most widely used for DVDs and newer optical disc formats, supplanting ISO 9660. Due to its design, it is very well suited to incremental updates on both recordable and (re)writable optical media. UDF is developed and maintained by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).
Normally, authoring software will master a UDF file system in a batch process and write it to optical media in a single pass. But when packet writing to rewritable media, such as CD-RW, UDF allows files to be created, deleted and changed on-disc just as a general-purpose filesystem would on removable media like floppy disks and flash drives. This is also possible on write-once media, such as CD-R, but in that case the space occupied by the deleted files cannot be reclaimed (and instead becomes inaccessible).
Multi-session mastering is also possible in UDF, though some implementations may be unable to read disks with multiple sessions.
- "Universal Disk Format" | 2013-01-20 | 10 Upvotes 10 Comments
JScript is Microsoft's dialect of the ECMAScript standard that is used in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
JScript is implemented as an Active Scripting engine. This means that it can be "plugged in" to OLE Automation applications that support Active Scripting, such as Internet Explorer, Active Server Pages, and Windows Script Host. It also means such applications can use multiple Active Scripting languages, e.g., JScript, VBScript or PerlScript.
JScript was first supported in the Internet Explorer 3.0 browser released in August 1996. Its most recent version is JScript 9.0, included in Internet Explorer 9.
JScript 10.0 is a separate dialect, also known as JScript .NET, which adds several new features from the abandoned fourth edition of the ECMAScript standard. It must be compiled for .NET Framework version 2 or version 4, but static type annotations are optional.
- "JScript" | 2021-08-29 | 15 Upvotes 18 Comments
WinFS (short for Windows Future Storage) was the code name for a canceled data storage and management system project based on relational databases, developed by Microsoft and first demonstrated in 2003 as an advanced storage subsystem for the Microsoft Windows operating system, designed for persistence and management of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.
WinFS includes a relational database for storage of information, and allows any type of information to be stored in it, provided there is a well defined schema for the type. Individual data items could then be related together by relationships, which are either inferred by the system based on certain attributes or explicitly stated by the user. As the data has a well defined schema, any application can reuse the data; and using the relationships, related data can be effectively organized as well as retrieved. Because the system knows the structure and intent of the information, it can be used to make complex queries that enable advanced searching through the data and aggregating various data items by exploiting the relationships between them.
While WinFS and its shared type schema make it possible for an application to recognize the different data types, the application still has to be coded to render the different data types. Consequently, it would not allow development of a single application that can view or edit all data types; rather, what WinFS enables applications to do is understand the structure of all data and extract the information that they can use further. When WinFS was introduced at the 2003 Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft also released a video presentation, named IWish, showing mockup interfaces that showed how applications would expose interfaces that take advantage of a unified type system. The concepts shown in the video ranged from applications using the relationships of items to dynamically offer filtering options to applications grouping multiple related data types and rendering them in a unified presentation.
WinFS was billed as one of the pillars of the "Longhorn" wave of technologies, and would ship as part of the next version of Windows. It was subsequently decided that WinFS would ship after the release of Windows Vista, but those plans were shelved in June 2006, with some of its component technologies being integrated into ADO.NET and Microsoft SQL Server.
- "WinFS" | 2022-02-18 | 23 Upvotes 2 Comments