Windows 11 still features a developer's 'temporary' UI from 30 years ago

Old Windows 95 computer

Despite all of Microsoft's talk of it being a modern operating system, Windows 11 remains firmly rooted in the past. There are numerous elements of the interface that have not changed in years, and there remain options that are only accessible though the old-fashioned Control Panel.

But there is a surprising hangover from days of yore that has just been highlighted by the developer who created the interface for the Format dialog. The design of the UI, the list of options, and even the 32GB size constraint of a FAT volume, were only ever meant to be temporary -- and yet they are still here three decades on.

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The disk formatting dialog has not changed from Windows 95 to Windows 11, and the developer who was responsible for its creation has revealed that it was never meant to be the final look.

Dave W Plummer posted on X that "I wrote this Format dialog back on a rainy Thursday morning at Microsoft in late 1994, I think it was. We were porting the bajillion lines of code from the Windows95 user interface over to NT, and Format was just one of those areas where WindowsNT was different enough from Windows95 that we had to come up with some custom UI".

The post, noticed by Ars Technica, goes on to say:

I busted out VC++2.0 and used the Resource Editor to lay out a simple vertical stack of all the choices you had to make, in the approximate order you had to make.  It wasn't elegant, but it would do until the elegant UI arrived.

That was some 30 years ago, and the dialog is still my temporary one from that Thursday morning, so be careful about checking in "temporary" solutions!

Plummer also reveals that the 32GB size limit for FAT volumes was nothing more than "an arbitrary choice that morning".

It is extraordinary to think that one developer's quick-and-dirty afternoon project is still in use -- or at least available to -- millions of present-day computer users, and all the more extraordinary to think that Microsoft has never seen fit to update it.

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