08 February 2007

An Easter Egg

From Wikipedia:

A virtual Easter egg is a hidden message or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, computer program, or video game. The term draws a parallel with the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in many western nations. In computer programming, the underlying motivation is probably to put an individual, almost artistic touch on an intellectual product which is by its nature standardized and functional.


Because of the increase in malware, many companies and government offices forbid the use of software containing Easter eggs for security reasons. With the rise of cybercrime and the prevalence of the Easter egg's cousin, the logic bomb, there is now concern that if the programmer could slip in undocumented code, then the software cannot be trusted. This is of particular concern in offices where personal or confidential information is stored, making it sensitive to theft and ransom. For this reason, many developers have stopped the practice of adding Easter eggs to their software. Microsoft, who has in the past created some of the largest and most elaborate Easter eggs such as the ones in Microsoft Office, no longer allows Easter eggs as part of their Trustworthy Computing initiative.

That pretty much sums it up. In a quieter time, there were Easter eggs. Alas, that time has left, never to return. However, digging through some old notes of mine, I found something fun, so today I'll to do my part to preserve some Mac history. The following are the instructions needed to trigger an Easter egg in Mac Office 98 that, as far as I know is Mac specific and no where recorded online. I'm not going to tell you what it does, but if someone has an old copy of Mac Office 98 around, does this and sends me a screenshot, I'll post it. :)

The steps are pretty involved:

  1. Set System date to > Feb. 15
  2. Boot any Office application
  3. Make sure the Assistant is up
  4. Grab the Standard toolbar by the drag handle and do the following without letting go:
    • grab to the center so it is floating
    • grab it back to the top dock area
    • grab to the center so it is floating
    • grab it to the left dock area
    • grab to the center so it is floating
    • grab it to the bottom dock area
    • grab to the center so it is floating
    • grab it to the right dock area
    • grab to the center so it is floating
    • grab it to the top dock area and drop it
  5. Click the Assistant
  6. Type “Think Different”? Think Grammar!
  7. (including all punctuation and spaces, exactly as you see it above)
  8. Click Search



Anonymous said...

Yep, sounds about right. There's one embedded in Office 2001 as well, but I forget the steps.

michel.ricart said...

So you mean that I paid a lot for this extensive piece of software because you were getting money to loose time to implement such useless "feature" which furthermore consumed some of my disk space and of my computer memory? Many thanks :-(

David Weiss said...

If you bought Office 98, then yes. Another reason why Easter eggs are no more.

Anonymous said...

In my lexicon of easter eggs only three simple words are needed: "secret about box"

Anonymous said...

Michel: You bought a Mac to run Office 98, didn't you? Then do a quick search for Easter Eggs and Mac OS, Quicktime, etc... Chances are that the OS ones were taking a lot more room...

That said, I miss my Easter eggs... I thought it was a really cool way for a developer to add a personal touch in days when security was not needed as much...

Unknown said...


You forgot the one in Office 2004:



Unknown said...

Office 2001 Easter Egg: Open the Office Assistant and type in "DAVE, meet ms:macman!" (Without the quotes I believe, but all other capitalization and punctuation) then click the Options button

Anonymous said...

The incredible shortsightedness of people like michel here never ceases to amaze me. The basic idea that programmers are wasting time by having a little fun with their product is naive at best.

If a programmer goes for a short break, you're "paying" for it as well, dude. The team is going to play a bout of multiplayer Halo to blow off some steam? It's on your tab, buddy. Software is made by people. Programmers are not machines, cranking away at business code 24 hours a day.

And, consumes disk space and memory? Give me a break. Your system is 10GB worth of stuff you don't know even exists or care about.

I can understand the concerns for security in today's world, but don't act like you suddenly care about every byte on your computer or act all upset about the fact that your applications are not created in some industrial lab by coding drones.

I guess some people are actually disappointed that 1984 turned out not to be like “1984”.