Talking about The Old New Thing : Buying an entire Egghead Software store

 Raymond tells the story of taking a pickup truck to Egghead to buy one copy of each application for compatibility testing.  What he doesn’t mention is that it created a bunch of extra work for him personally, since he was one of the people responsible for investigating and fixing application compatibility issues in Windows 95.

The application that I got from this bonanza was EA Sports’ NHL Hockey 95.  The first time I tried to run it, it attempted to start for a while but never actually got past the initial load; eventually my computer’s hard disk ran out of space.  Raymond came to my office to investigate and discovered that the application was using a memory manager add-on that attempted to determine how much RAM was available in the system by allocating memory in an infinite loop until it got an out-of-memory error.  On traditional MS-DOS this would fail pretty quickly, but on Windows 95 the OS’s virtual memory manager would keep allocating and allocating, and continually enlarging the swap file on the hard disk to handle the requests.  This would keep happening until the hard disk was completely full, which could take a very long time.

Raymond added code to Windows 95 detect this particular memory manager add-on and handle its requests intelligently.  This was a good thing because a number of other MS-DOS applications used the same memory manager.

By the way, I never got very good at NHL Hockey 95.  To be able to compete with the computer player you needed a joystick and all I had was a mouse (they didn’t buy us OS developer types joysticks for our office computers, go figure).  The only times I ever won was when I played an all-star team and the computer played the worst team in the league.

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