Was Bob Microsoft's worst product ever?

Microsoft may get a lot of heat about Vista, but it has produced many other clunkers. What was the worst? Cast your vote.

Microsoft may get a lot of heat about Vista, but it has produced many other clunkers. What was the worst? Cast your vote.


People love to pile on Microsoft about Windows Vista being so bad, but as I pointed out last week, I think Microsoft Bob was much, much worse. It was painfully slow and so dumbed down that you could feel your IQ drop as you used it.

I had heard how slow it was but hadn't experienced it firsthand until I was doing screen captures for the Microsoft Bob Photo Gallery. In order to get the screen captures, I ran Microsoft Bob in Windows 3.1 under Virtual PC 2007. The host machine was a 2.8GHz P4 with 2GB of RAM, 16MB of which was dedicated to the Windows 3.1 virtual session.  Normally Windows 3.1 flies under that configuration, but you could actually see Bob doing screen redraws. I can't imagine how painful it must have been running Bob on a 486 when it was new.

Microsoft has made plenty of great products, but it's created its share of stinkers as well.  I don't think Visa is quite as bad as some people make it out to be. And beyond Bob, there have been products that make Vista look terrific. Some of the products that come to mind include:

  • MS-DOS 4.0: This version of DOS was buggy and slow. It broke many DOS apps and consumed so much of DOS's 640K RAM that many programs wouldn't run.
  • Microsoft Works: Microsoft Office for Home and the Small Business. The applications were limited in power and created data files that couldn't easily be shared by anyone who wasn't using Office.
  • Windows 3.0: Supposedly the first "successful" version of Windows, Windows 3.0 was slow and would frequently crash. It didn't multitask very well and required a lot of hardware. Windows 3.1 fixed a lot of its problems.
  • Windows ME: Take the shaky foundation of Windows 9x and add lots of overhead and no real improvements over Windows 98. Watch users flee to XP.

What was Microsoft's worst product ever?

What do you think? What was Microsoft's worst product ever? Take the poll below and make your voice heard. If there's something I forgot, mention it in the Comment section.

I thought about specifically excluding Vista from the poll to keep the Vista-Haters from piling on, but I decided to keep it in. There have been some legitimate complaints about it, and I wanted to have the discussion of its merits in context with other infamous products.

Editor's Picks