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Image Hidden In Windows Vista DVD Hologram

Someone at Microsoft snuck in a microscopic photo of three men into the hologram on the disk. Take a look:

DVD Easter Egg

I got word from someone on the inside that they are running a query inside Microsoft, that emails are flying around trying to figure out who put the picture in there. That pretty much means this wasn’t known until now, this wasn’t approved, and there’s some level of concern internally.

Microsoft doesn’t like easter eggs in its products, doesn’t like surprises that could make it look unprofessional or just be embaressing. Larry Osterman said, “Nowadays, adding an easter egg to a Microsoft OS is immediate grounds for termination”. Jeremy Mazner has more:

Leading up the release of Windows 2000, Microsoft starting getting a lot more serious about selling servers into the government and large enterprise markets. These guys saw NT 4 as the first really credible enterprise-class product from MS, and were evaluating Win2k to see how things were progressing.

The story, as I recall it, is that one of these customers had some strong words for our easter eggs, suggesting that any company that could let such things frivolous things into their products wasn’t doing a very good software engineering job, and thus couldn’t be trusted to run an enterprise-scale business.

The argument never made much sense to me. Easter eggs, at least on teams I worked on, were never anywhere near critical-path code. And they often seem to have been pretty well tested by every member of the product team who wanted to verify their name showed up. Maybe there’s some story I don’t know about how an Easter egg caused a perf hit, or crash or something (I bet if such a story existed, Raymond would know it.). In any event, it seemed like we one day got this email that said “no more Easter eggs ever again”, and that was pretty much the end of it.

Wikipedia has a whole article on Microsoft easter eggs, starting with a note that there have been few easter eggs since 2002.

So, if your company has a policy against easter eggs, to the point where many consider it a fireable offence, is this something someone could get fired for? Yeah, probably. The fact that it took five months for this to get caught shows the problem: There could have been anything there. Whoever stuck in that photo could have stuck in a penis, and Microsoft will probably feel the need to go with overkill to prevent that ever happening.

It really depends on who did it. If a senior exec and a number of others conspired on this, they might get away with a public reprimand, while if a small designer did it, he might get canned. It’s a shame, but those are the breaks when you work at a $287 billion company. Fun is for smaller companies, I guess.

UPDATE: Aw man, there are multiple images! Not good.

UPDATE 2: Bink has some good closeups.

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Corporate, Windows, General | 16 comments

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  1. Termination? Why would they do that?

    Comment by Jay | June 13, 2007

  2. […] wow starts now - or at least the word wow came into my mind when I saw this post at InsideMicrosoft. Apparently a spanish guy (nickname kwisatz) has found that there is a hidden […]

    Pingback by Image Hidden In Windows Vista DVD Hologram « Darren Straight’s Blog | June 13, 2007

  3. Jay, Like I explained, Microsoft has a policy against these things, for reasons their executives seem to think are important. They don’t want to risk embaressment, and if your boss tells you “Don’t do this or you’ll be fired”, you really shouldn’t do it.

    I think they should be allowed to do easter eggs, but that’s just my opinion.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | June 13, 2007

  4. “”I got word from someone on the inside that they are running a query inside Microsoft, that e-mails are flying around trying to figure out who put the picture in there,”"

    No, no I don’t think you did. You totally have blown any rep you may have ever had with this outright, barefaced lie. Enjoy!

    Comment by battlepope | June 14, 2007

  5. Battlepope, you believe every official statement you read? Here’s the conversation I had yesterday, the name of the person I talked to ommited:

    6/13/2007 9:20:07 AM [__] you know the story of the three guys in the vista hologram?
    6/13/2007 9:20:28 AM Nathan We*red+uberg I saw a picture. What about it?
    6/13/2007 9:21:01 AM [__]
    6/13/2007 9:21:40 AM Nathan We*red+uberg
    6/13/2007 9:21:59 AM [__] oho
    6/13/2007 9:22:01 AM [__] dude
    6/13/2007 9:22:04 AM Nathan We*red+uberg Any idea who it is?
    6/13/2007 9:22:20 AM [__] is the ANYTHING i can tell you that you don’t know yet?
    6/13/2007 9:22:27 AM Nathan We*red+uberg Hehe :)
    6/13/2007 9:22:31 AM [__] they’re running a query inside MS
    6/13/2007 9:22:33 AM [__] to find out
    6/13/2007 9:22:39 AM [__] i saw the emails pass by
    6/13/2007 9:22:50 AM Nathan We*red+uberg I’m quoting that :) Without mentioning you, but still.
    6/13/2007 9:22:50 AM [__] i’ll ping you asap as i get an answer
    6/13/2007 9:23:11 AM [__] quote me right then :)
    6/13/2007 9:23:14 AM Nathan We*red+uberg That’s bad news. People have gotten fired for easter eggs at MS in the past.
    6/13/2007 9:23:16 AM [__] without the typo
    6/13/2007 9:23:17 AM [__] :)
    6/13/2007 9:23:18 AM Nathan We*red+uberg Hehe

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | June 14, 2007

  6. Don’t EVER call me a liar. I never lie on this blog. That’s the only thing you can be sure of.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | June 14, 2007

  7. Windows Vista software is a contaminated software.

    People don’t buy this asshole.

    Comment by Dr Doctor | June 14, 2007

  8. You are lying.

    Comment by you_liar | June 14, 2007

  9. Pirates DO NOT care about some hologram on the top of the disc. All they care about is the data on the bottom side. And as long as that can be copied with relative ease, Microsoft will continue to be one step behind the pirates.

    Comment by Brenden | June 14, 2007

    Conspiracy my ass. That converstaion doesn’t prove anything.

    Comment by you lie | June 14, 2007

  11. “The real story is interesting, but conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that it is not the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive. The photo displays members of the team who worked on the Windows Vista DVD hologram design. Microsoft’s Anti-Piracy Team designed a counterfeit-resistant digital “watermark” for the non-encoded surface of Windows Vista DVDs. The photo in question is only one of multiple images contained in the hologram design, all of whose inclusion serves to make it more difficult to replicate a Windows Vista DVD. The other images are of old master works of art that are in the public domain. These images are part of numerous other security measures that have been designed into our media, packaging and certificates of authenticity. Hence, even though this image has been reproduced on the Web, there are many other features providing further security.” ~Microsoft’s Nick White on the Vista blog.

    Comment by Jeff | June 14, 2007

  12. Another thing that is embarrassing is spelling embarrassing as “embaressing”.

    Comment by Marco N. | June 15, 2007

  13. Obviously one of the culprits is related to Jan Vermeer.

    Comment by Eric Iverson | June 15, 2007

  14. Well, Stephen Hawking says it’s aliens in the photots, look at this log…

    Me: Dude, who are in the pictures?
    Stephen Hawking: Aliens bro! Aliens!
    Me: Oh, sweet.

    I guess it must be real if I have typed up chat logs, right?

    Comment by uNF | June 15, 2007

  15. Microsoft wants you to trust them to your computer’s security, when they can’t even trust their own employees.

    Comment by haha | June 15, 2007

  16. […] I also got were a bunch of trolls. I had mentioned in my post that someone at Microsoft told me there were internal emails asking […]

    Pingback by » Windows Vista DVD Hologram: The Aftermath »  InsideMicrosoft - part of the Blog News Channel | June 15, 2007

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