Windows has a feature that hasn't been updated in 30 years

Windows has a feature that hasn't been updated in 30 years

It was added back in Windows NT as a temporary solution, but you're still using it.

Updates in computing are crucial for several reasons. They improve security by fixing vulnerabilities, add new features, enhance performance, and ensure compatibility with newer software and hardware. Regular updates help maintain the reliability and efficiency of computing devices. And even though, Windows has evolved over decades, yet the Format dialog, introduced in 1994, remains largely untouched. And it's a story to be told.

Dave Plummer, a former Microsoft developer, who worked on the Windows Task Manager, Calculator, and even Windows Pinball, shared the tale of the Format dialog on X and told his followers and the whole world about how the Format drive dialog box was created many years ago and how it hasn't been updated since then.

"We were porting the bajillion lines of code from the Windows 95 user interface over to NT, and Format was just one of those areas where Windows NT was different enough from Windows 95 that we had to come up with some custom UI," says Plummer. "I got out a piece of paper and wrote down all the options and choices you could make with respect to formatting a disk, like filesystem, label, cluster size, compression, encryption, and so on. Then I busted out VC++2.0 and used the Resource Editor to lay out a simple vertical stack of all the choices you had to make, in the approximate order you had to make," said Dave Plummer in a Twitter post.

Plummer then created this window, which he added to the Windows NT code base as a temporary solution "It wasn't elegant, but it would do until the elegant UI arrived." he said. That improvement never came, and almost 30 years later, Plummer's temporary solution is still in use in Windows 11. "I wrote this Format dialog back on a rainy Thursday morning at Microsoft in late 1994, I think it was", Dave Plummer wrote.

X Format drive dialog X
© X

If you're wondering why the FAT volume size in Windows is limited to only 32 GB, it may also be partly due to Plummer. He noted that he had to decide when a cluster was too big, and as a result, the volume format size was limited to 32 GB. FAT supports up to 2 TB, though.

Despite the many changes to the Windows interface over the years, Microsoft hasn't touched the format dialog box since it was introduced in Windows NT many years ago. "That was some 30 years ago, and the dialog is still my temporary one from that Thursday morning, so be careful about checking in "temporary" solutions! So remember... there are no "temporary" checking :)" he said.