Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen took to YouTube over the weekend to remind us of the time the Home windows vendor by chance sank Poland.
Talking on the Dave’s Storage channel, run by former Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer, Chen added some thrives to a narrative from many years in the past concerning the neat time zone map that originally shipped with Home windows 95.
Readers of a sure age would possibly bear in mind the unique Home windows 95 time zone map. It was a enjoyable characteristic the place a person might click on on a area of a map to pick out a time zone or regional settings – one thing that engineers likely had a blast making earlier than geopolitical realities hit residence.
Should you do not bear in mind the time zone map working that means, don’t fret. Microsoft needed to pull the options after governments complained about the place their borders had been. In 2003, Chen defined: “In early 1995, a border battle broke out between Peru and Ecuador, and the Peruvian authorities complained to Microsoft that the border was incorrectly positioned.
“After all, if we complied and moved the border northward, we might get an equally offended letter from the Ecuadorian authorities demanding that we transfer it again. So we eliminated the characteristic altogether.”
Speaking to Plummer, Chen added some extra element: “There have been even arguments from international locations who weren’t engaged in a border battle the place a small European nation would contact us and say, ‘Hey, our nation is sort of small, are you able to give us certainly one of our neighbor’s pixels to make it simpler to click on on?”
This triggered an offended response from one other nation demanding why certainly one of their pixels had been given away, and so it went on.
Since making everybody completely satisfied was unattainable, Chen mentioned the answer was to rotate the map to place the chosen zone within the heart. All good? Not fairly…
“There was a bug that we launched after we did that although…”
Chen went on to elucidate how the up to date time zone map labored. Select a zone, and all of the pixels of the identical code had been highlighted, and the remainder dimmed. “We simply took out all of the coloring code,” he mentioned, “however the map was nonetheless there … we simply used the map to determine the place land and ocean was.”
Which is the place the issue occurred. In response to Chen, modifications had been made to the time zone data for Poland. The nation’s time zone was modified to match that of its neighbors, however sadly, the colours on the map weren’t up to date accordingly.
“Poland’s time-zone – the unique ‘unique to Poland’ time zone disappeared … in consequence whenever you went to the world map – the time zone picker map – there was ocean the place Poland is meant to be.”
The issue had been attributable to the deletion of Poland from the listing since no one used the zone. Nevertheless, Microsoft’s engineers forgot about one factor that did use it… the map. The consequence was that Poland remained on the backside of the ocean as a substitute of being highlighted with the remainder of the zone.
Chen recalled that the difficulty was ultimately fastened however mentioned: “There was a time period when when you went to the time zone map, as a substitute of Poland, you noticed, er, what we referred to as ‘The Nice Polish Sea’.” ®