How to sneak the Windows 95 credits screen into the build without anybody noticing

Raymond Chen

The hidden Windows 95 credits screen was snuck into the build under cover of darkness.

Okay, maybe not, but it was snuck in.

The code for the Windows 95 credits was snuck into shell32.dll, in part by writing it in an obscure language nobody understood.

It was written in C++.

At the time, C was the well-tested, well-supported language, having been de facto standardized since 1978 (K&R) and formally standardized since 1989. The C++ language wouldn’t become standardized until 1998. C++ was the language to use if you wanted to live dangerously on the bleeding edge.

The code for the credits is the only code in the Windows 95 shell that was written in C++. Aside from a small amount of assembly language, everything else is in C.¹

Related reading: An insight into the Windows 95 startup sound, and the origin of the Windows 95 credits music.

Bonus video: Composer Brian Orr answers questions about the Windows 95 credits music.

Bonus chatter: Even though Brian in the video says that management mustn’t find out, at least one manager did know about it, because I remember sitting in their office to go over the list of names to include.

¹ The Windows 95 shell was COM-based, but it used COM in C. So don’t say it can’t be done.