The heaviest software package from Microsoft weighed 20 kilograms. That was in it.
Microsoft’s C/C++ compiler version 7.0 with Windows SDK was impressive
© Microsoft / Steve Carroll
There was a time when data from the Internet traveled very slowly over the wire. We’re talking about a speed of kilobytes per second. At that time, software manufacturers still delivered their products on floppy disks. And the scope could be huge. In 1995, for example, Windows 95 was available on either 13 diskettes or a CD-ROM, later Office 97 had an impressive 55 diskettes in the Pro version.
But it gets even more lavish: When asked what the “biggest piece of software ever” that Microsoft has released was, Microsoft archivist Amy Stevenson went on a search and found an answer: It was the C/C++ compiler Version 7.0, which Microsoft delivered in 1992, including the Windows SDK. This package weighed an impressive 20 kilograms. In the video below, Stevenson introduces the product’s impressive packaging:
That’s why the package weighed so much
With the C/C++ Compiler 7.0 including Windows SDK developers could develop applications for Windows, DOS and OS/2. The box contained 25 5.25 inch floppy disks. The package weighed 20 kilograms because Microsoft put 21 books in it. After all, the developers also needed complete documentation in order to be able to create applications.
The Internet existed in 1992, but Microsoft had come under fire when it released version 6.0 of the C/C++ compiler for putting some of the documentation on the Internet, which the testers and developers didn’t like. At least that’s what the former Windows and Office boss Steve Sinofsky reports
in a tweet.
For this reason, Microsoft decided in version 7.0 to include the many books in the package again.
“We never did that again,” explains Stevenson. The C/C++ Compiler 7.0 was then replaced by Visual C++ 1.0 in 1993. In this package, the developer tools are either on 3.5-inch floppy disks or CD-ROMs. There were books here too, but the weight was reduced to almost 15 kilograms.
Over the years, Visual C++ has replaced books with digital documentation on CD-ROMs and DVDs. Nowadays everything is only available on the Internet and Visual Studio is available for download from Microsoft.