Easter eggs

Star calc Open Office calc Easter Egg

I spotted a tip off to this Easter egg in OpenOffice here

As far as I am aware Easter eggs are now banned from Microsoft products under their trustworthy computing initiative. So how is that fair?

Heres some questions:

  1. Do you think OpenOffice Calc is less secure than Excel?
  2. Does the existence of this Easter egg impact that view?
  3. Does removing Easter Eggs from Microsoft products make you feel warm and fuzzy about them?
  4. Is this an example of them mis-aiming their efforts?

I don’t think I have a strong view either way actually. But I have noticed open source stuff often has neat little twists that Microsoft being Microsoft just could not do.

Easter eggs – Good or bad? (or don’t care?)

Cheers

Simon

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4 Responses to “Easter eggs”

  1. Shahar Prish Says:

    Disclaimer: These are my personal views – not MS’s.

    I think at the end of the day, the decision was just a pure and cold risk assesment. That and the fact that people have been complaining about Easter Eggs in MS products for years before we stopped doing it.

    The risk is pretty easy to understand, if you think about it. What if an easter egg had a bug in it? Sure, it probably doesn’t happen often, but what if that happened? How do you, as an organization, justify the $$$ expediture of issuing a QFE? QFEs are very expensive – I dont know the exact figure, but it’s a lot of money.

    The problem is also a little easier to understand when you realize that there is no time in the schedule to test easter eggs (that may sound obvious, but you can imagine that for an application like Excel, that can cause nightmares).

    Finally, there’s the legal point of view. There’s a great example with google maps. If you ask for directions from somewhere in Europe to somewhere in the US, at some point, in the directions, you will be told “Swim accross the Atlantic Ocean”. Very amusing.. I can just see this being brought to the lawyers and them getting a heart attack, looking at potential lawsuits stemming from people trying to swim the atlantic ocean.
    http://www.ghacks.net/2007/04/11/google-maps-swim-across-the-atlantic-ocean/

    So the simplest solution is to ban them completely. The only other alternative is to treat them as any other feature (schedule dev, test time, make them go thru legal reviews – the whole nine yards). But that just downright defeats the purpose of Easter eggs.

    I personally think it’s sad, but I can also see MS’s side of things, I guess.

  2. Marcus Says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Shahar. I think it’s a great idea and a source of team morale if you can stamp your work in some way such as an Easter Egg. However I can also understand MS’s reasoning.

    As a matter of interest, on what grounds were the complaints about Easter Eggs?

    Regards – Marcus

  3. Shahar Prish Says:

    The ones I have heard (before I joined MS even) was that it a bloat in memory, a bloat on the installed image on the hard drive and as something that takes time from developers (if they did that, why didnt they add the X feature?)

    These complaits are >7 years – but even then, the actual amount of disk space/memory taken by the MS easter eggs I know was small comared to the amount of memory/disk available. You can imagine people who see computers completely as a business tool and who are not total geeks still holding that opinion though.

    And again, I agree with you. It’s delightful and funny and puts a human face to the people bringing you the software. But MS being what it is, I can see why we are taking such a harsh stance on that.

    Just one example that illustrates this:
    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.folklore.computers/browse_thread/thread/f380d6b3865bcfa9/c78d1e7d6d798892?lnk=st&q=%22easter+egg%22+excel+memory+-mac#c78d1e7d6d798892

    I’m not knowledgeable enough to know how
    much memory that represents but my gut tells me that a good chunk of
    the bucks I spent went right down the porcelain princess

    Of course, when compared to writing an OS (even 95.. ;)), pretty much any easter egg will be an insanely small fraction of a percent. But that’s just not how people precieve it.

  4. Simon Says:

    Like I said I can see both sides. And I can certainly see people frustrated that their favourite feature didn’t make it, but a mini arcade game did. But I doubt these things are written in work time, more likely as an out of hours ‘hobby’.
    The testing point is a good one, at the end of the day they sit inside a corporate product, for which the corp takes some responsibility (not that much if you check your EULAs!).
    I’ve seen plenty about the opposing views of whether devs should ‘sign’ their work like a craftsman, or not like most engineering types. I guess I’m on the fence on this one.

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