Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Windows used to include a screensaver called “3D Pipes,” which drew overlapping pipes on a black background. It’s a fond memory for many people, and a new blog post sheds some light on its origin.

Raymond Chen, a former Microsoft engineer, has shared some details about the 3D Pipes screensaver on his blog, The Old New Thing. The screensaver’s origins date to the development of Windows NT 3.5, the second release of Microsoft’s Windows NT operating system thar arrived in 1994. One of the new features was OpenGL support, and the 3D Pipes screensaver was imagined as a demo for the operating system’s 3D capabilities.

Chen said, “One of my old friends told me how he got 3D Pipes added to Windows. At the time, he was on the Windows OpenGL team. They had successfully implemented the API with hardware acceleration, but had nothing to show it off. Windows NT 3.5 was very close to shipping with OpenGL support, but there was nothing in the product that let the user know that this feature even existed. He had to find a way to advertise the feature without risking product stability.”

The developer kicked off a screen saver contest among the Windows OpenGL team, with 3D Pipes being one of the entries alongside 3D Maze, 3D Text, and 3D Flying Objects. The team was supposed to vote for a single winner to be included with Windows NT 3.5, but when a person on Microsoft’s marketing team saw them, he said, “You can call off the vote. We’re adding all of them to the product!”

3D Pipes was included in Windows NT 3.5, and it was also included in the following year’s release of Windows 95. It lived on as a built-in screensaver until it was removed in Windows Vista, but it has been recreated in other software projects, such as a web app.

It’s still possible to use 3D Pipes and other legacy screensavers by copying the files from a Windows XP installation, though there might be performance or compatibility issues on modern 64-bit x86 and ARM processors. Maybe bringing back 3D Pipes is just what Windows 11 needs to get a popularity boost.

Source: The Old New Thing

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By John P.

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