Microsoft Bob Reloaded? Second Coming Could Sport Added Sophistication

July 16, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Back in 1995, when Bob hopped on to our computer screens, we all thought something big was coming our way. Though the image of the dog that popped up to tells us what we were actually doing and what we should be doing, interested us big time, the need for such a virtual assistant faded away.

It did fade off indeed, without leaving a trace. It vanished, may be with the exception of a cousin called Clippy, the Office assistant helper.

Whatever Bob tried to do, Microsoft fanboys failed to take notice. Or, maybe they all wanted to ignore it as if they didn’t need him at all. Bob had then realized that Microsoft users were more interested in stuff like simple icons and folders, which were friendlier than Bob’s so called assistance.

bill gates

But then, Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates isn’t someone who would take his failures lying down, would he? 1995 is dead and gone, but Bob still lives in his vision and mind. And if someone points out to him that Bob was a failure, he would want to just state that “”We were just ahead of our time, like most of our mistakes”.

Does that man Bob lives? Yes, indeed. It might have failed to keep users excited, but Gates wants the concept o emerge yet again and live on.

This Monday, as he spoke at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit at the company’s Redmond base, he was heard saying that the Microsoft Bob the concept will come back to life again sporting some amount of added sophistication.

A bit of history here would tell you what was Bob and how well it had been introduced.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1995, Gates himself unveiled Bob so as to usher in a virtual house with rooms and doors and cartoon dog as assistants to aid computer users to navigate Windows. Bob was so handy that it proved good in helping users perform tasks with Microsoft applications.

But then, the initial enthusiasm waned, with users resorting to stay put that to be impressed by the Bob program. As criticism mounted, Bob had to pull down the curtains on itself, and then bow out off the stage during the beginning of 1996.

So with Gates planning to breathe life into Bob yet again, what would it look like? May be the cartoon characters will be missing and instead could be replaced with voice assistance.  But then, don’t we have Apple’s Siri and Google’s similar service already?

Microsoft might be thinking of adding more to it than we would imagine. With the Windows 8 tiled interface adding to the charm, Bob’s new avatar could be worth waiting for. What do you think?

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