When we talked about Microsoft Bob, some TR members mentioned a parody called Bubba. Here’s a look at Bubba and a pointer to where you can get it.


Earlier in Classics Rock, I mentioned maybe the worst Microsoft program of all time, Microsoft Bob. In the Comment section, a few TechRepublic members mentioned a parody of Microsoft Bob that they remembered called Bubba. Within a matter of days, George Campbell, the author of Bubba, turned up in the discussion and sent me an e-mail about Bubba.

What’s Bubba?

Bubba was a parody of the infamous Microsoft Bob. Where Bob offered a comfortable living room as an operating environment for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, Bubba offered the inside of a messy trailer. Bob’s trusty Rover has been replaced by a sleepy armadillo. Both programs, however, serve to act as a launching platform for Windows programs. All the dialog boxes and sound bites have a down-home quality to them, completing the redneck feel to the program.

Compared to Bob, Bubba’s very limited. However, it was never intended to be a complete operating environment. It was only made to poke fun at Bob. Therefore, it apes the look and feel, but it doesn’t do as much.

For example, the screen is locked at a 640×480 resolution. If you run it on a screen with larger resolution, Bubba runs in a small unmovable window. Also, Bob allows you to move objects around inside the room, but Bubba has the objects locked in place.

George wrote Bubba in Visual Basic 3.0 and includes a runtime for VB with it. As such, it runs in Windows XP and Windows Vista as well as Windows 3.1 and 9x. Not all the programs work, and Bubba crashes when it has a problem. It will still launch some preconfigured programs, and you can make it run things like Firefox as well. Equally cool is the fact that you can run Bubba under Linux using WINE.

From the author

Not only did George Campbell participate in the discussion about Bubba, but he also sent me an e-mail discussing a little bit of the history of Bubba:

It’s really only of historical interest. I closed down my shareware company years ago…

It’s still around on the web in a couple of places. I found my copy on some obscure German site, of all places. I’d lost all the files. I no longer have the source stuff, or I’d modify it to call current accessories.

The reason it runs in Vista is that it was written in VB. For some unknown reason, programs written even in early versions of VB continue to run, even in Vista, as long as the programmer didn’t stray from straightforward coding.

VB gets trashed a lot, but it was a decent way to create apps for Windows. Microsoft crippled it in some ways, especially in areas like graphics handling, but there were workarounds. Finally, Microsoft turned it into a version of Pascal, more or less, and it finally died.

George made a lot of use of Visual Basic in his programming, and Microsoft took some notes while ignoring others:

One of my shareware programs was the first to be able to print and display scaleable graphics in Windows. It took some clever tricks, but was possible. I made the subroutines I used available to other VB programmers at no charge, and pressured Microsoft, through reviews, to include that functionality in later versions of the language.

When defective TrueType fonts were being widely distributed, I did a freeware VB program that tested uninstalled TT fonts and identified ones that would crash Windows. My OsoSoft OKFonts was recommended in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base for that purpose. Odd that Microsoft didn’t build that into Windows to block defective .ttf files from being installed. “Not invented here…” I guess.

Oddly enough, some of my VB tricks ended up in Microsoft’s Knowlege Base tips for the language. Funny business, software is.

Needless to say, Microsoft and Bill Gates didn’t think that Bubba was very funny:

Bill Gates had a considerable dislike for me, but I was reviewing major apps from Microsoft for PC World at the time, so I got away with poking at the giant with my little stick from time to time.

I consider Bubba to be my masterstroke…my David vs. Goliath success story. A tiny burr under the Microsoft saddle.

Go n git you some

Thanks to George, we’ve got a copy of Bubba and created a Bubba Photo Gallery. George has also allowed us to host Bubba in our Downloads section. The only change I made to the original zip file was to convert the Bubba.wri file to Word format. The old Readme was in Microsoft Write, and Wordpad in Vista couldn’t open it cleanly.