4th March 2024

A Virtual World of Live Pictures

Technology and Computer

Unofficial app conjures Windows Bob’s spirit despite Microsoft wanting you to forget it

We recently took a stroll down the Windows memory lane where we published a Look Back article on Microsoft Bob. If you are wondering, we publish a weekly “Look back” column where we look at various past Microsoft Windows features among other things.

The idea behind Bob was simple, to make the Windows 3.1 user interface (UI) more intuitive, in order to make the user experience (UX) more user-friendly. This was in the mid-90s, right before Windows 95 landed, when home PCs were still not a commonplace sight in most houses and Microsoft believed something like this would be cool, and at the same time, useful too.

Microsoft bob screenshot

However, almost as soon as it was conceived, it was killed off, in just 10 months time, and became one of the first on the list of Windows applications killed by Microsoft. You can learn more about Bob in the Look back article if you want a refresher.

Fast forward to 2024, a new third-party app dubbed “MSBob” seeks to continue on the path where Bob left off, albeit for the modern Windows, as the developer believes that the Windows UI and UX “inconsistency persists” even today in 2023-24 despite nearly three decades of Windows development.

Here’s the dev explaining in their own words why they felt Microsoft Bob needed an unofficial revival on Windows 11:

Who still remembers Microsoft Bob? Behind it was software designed to make the operating system Windows 3.1 more intuitive and user-friendly. Even then, Microsoft recognized the need for an enhanced user experience, acknowledging the less-than-friendly nature of the existing Windows version.

This inconsistency persists today. While the XP search’s little Bob with the dog may no longer be part of the Windows scene, and Comic Sans font (believed to have been designed for Bob) endures, the inconsistent UI still permeates many areas of Windows 11. In a nutshell, Bob wasn’t well-received back then, and Windows 11 remains a matter of taste. Personally, I appreciate it, and perhaps, with the revamped MSBob, I can elevate and simplify your experience a bit.

MSBob UI
MSBob UI

The developer notes that MSBob utilizes Chromium-based Microsoft Edge WebView2 to embed JavaScript, HTML, and CSS into the app. It’s the first public release and a lot of it is still work-in-progress (WIP). The developer notes that the source code is available on GitHub where the utility can be downloaded as well, though do make sure to proceed with some caution as it is an unofficial app.

In terms of compatibility, the utility is designed to run on Windows 11 and may not work perfectly on Windows 10.


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