Microsoft Office secrets
If you’ve been using computers for a long time, you know what the term Easter Egg means when related to software. An Easter Egg is a small program that is hidden deep inside of an application and is designed by the application’s developers as a way of displaying their names—very similar to the credits that you see at the end of a movie. However, uncovering the Easter Egg is tricky as it almost always involves performing a series of very intricate and non-intuitive steps.
The increase in the prevalence of malware led to the notion that undocumented code embedded into a major application could be used to compromise sensitive or confidential data. In fact, many companies and government offices forbid the use of software containing Easter Eggs for security reasons. As such, Microsoft now officially bans the practice embedding Easter Eggs in their software as part of their Trustworthy Computing initiative.
However, in their heyday, Microsoft’s developers created some really elaborate Easter Eggs. In this gallery, I’ll show you the Easter Eggs that they embedded into Word 95, 97, and 2000.
This gallery was originally published in August 2010.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.
need to add the flight sim that was hidden in excel. That was awesome. I remember flying around and finding the gold scrolling plaque with the dev. names on it. -Chris
Before Word 95 there was a pretty funny Easter Egg in Word (for Windows 3.1) that displayed an animated sequence of a Microsoft agent jumping up and down on a Wordperfect logo until it was pounded into the ground. That was was pretty funny, until you realized that Microsoft was dead serious about killing Wordperfect. Brad Smith (ancient mariner)
I remember a flight simulator of sorts being in Excel when you previewed a spreadsheet in a browser and went to a cell on row 2000 or something. I'll just wait for the "Microsoft Excel Easter Eggs" post for that, though. This gallery also made me curious with the opening statement about how they must be documented. Theoretically, couldn't they put the documentation in the help text for ones like the one where you type "Cast" in the Office Assistant search? Because you have to perform the Easter egg to find the documentation, would that still qualify and/or be allowed by Microsoft for a future version of Office?
My most favorite funny Easter Egg in MS Word 97 Gold Edition, with no service packs installed was to type "unable to follow directions" without the quote marks. Then, highlight the sentence and invoke the Thesaurus. Then you are given the option of replacing your sentence with "unable to maintain an erection" It was hilarious, but after SP1 for Word 97 that Easter egg disappeared. Somebody got caught, I suppose, and the code for that Easter egg was removed.
I always called it "Word Imperfect" and some other terms unfit for publishing. Maybe Corel finally improved it, but as far as I was concerned it should have died on the vine!
I found two of them... one is a random disappearance of the document I was working on, without saving changes or asking any questions. The other is a random message stating that an unexpected error has occurred and asking if I want to send them the details. WAIT... those aren't Easter eggs, just poor coding in overpriced software. My mistake.
Corel still sells it. It's now WordPerfect Office X5 and sells for $249.99 for the full edition. There isn't a spreadsheet or anything big other than the word processor in it that I could see.