Microsoft Bob was a Microsoftsoftware product that was released on March 11, 1995 and discontinued in early 1996. The program was intended to provide a more user-friendly interface for the Windows 3.1x, Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems, supplanting the Windows Program Manager. Microsoft Bob presented screens showing a "house", with "rooms" that the user could go to containing familiar objects corresponding to computer applications—for instance, a desk with pen and paper, a checkbook, and other items. In this case, clicking on the pen and paper would open the word processor.
A cartoon dog named Rover and other cartoon characters provided guidance using speech balloons. Rover and a few others managed to later make their way back in Windows XP as "Search Companions".
Microsoft Bob was greatly criticized in the press, did not gain wide acceptance with users, and was neither a successful nor long-lived product.
Microsoft Bob was released in March 1995 (before Windows 95 was released), although it had been widely publicized prior to that date under the codename "Utopia". The project leader for Bob was
Karen Fries, a Microsoft researcher. The design was based on research by Professors Clifford Nass and Byron Reeves of Stanford University. At one point, Bill Gates's wife, Melinda Gates, worked as one of the Marketing Managers on the project. Microsoft originally purchased the domain name bob.com from Boston-area techie Bob Antia, but later traded it to
Bob Kerstein for the windows2000.com domain name.