In 2007, Spanish-speaking blogger, Kwisatz discovered a surprising image embedded in the hologram of a Windows Vista DVD:
Kwisatz blog has since been taken down, however, the original blog post and images can be seen using Web Archive .
It appeared an image of three men (ghosts?) had been embedded onto the DVD. The entire image is less than 1mm tall and is not visible to the naked eye. Kwisatz was able to capture the image using a Nikon 5700 camera.
This type of hidden content embedded in software (or in this case on a DVD), is called an Easter Egg. In the early days of software, Easter Eggs were commonplace. Developers would slip them in to software, often without permission. They were viewed as harmless fun. However, as software companies, such as Microsoft, grew in size, Easter Eggs became forbidden. Companies feared that Easter Eggs would damage their reputation. Larry Osterman wrote in 2005, “Nowadays, adding an easter egg to a Microsoft OS is immediate grounds for termination, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see another.”
With the steep consequences of Easter Eggs, the rumor mill began to swirl. Blogger Nathan Weinberg wrote,
“I got word from someone on the inside that they are running a query inside Microsoft, that e-mails are flying around trying to figure out who put the picture in there. That pretty much means this wasn’t known until now, this wasn’t approved, and there’s some level of concern internally.” He continued, “So, if your company has a policy against easter eggs, to the point where many consider it a fireable offence, is this something someone could get fired for? Yeah, probably. The fact that it took five months for this to get caught shows the problem: There could have been anything there…Microsoft will probably feel the need to go with overkill to prevent that ever happening.”
The tech world wondered if this image was sanctioned or if there would be firings. Eventually, Microsoft’s Nick White posted a response ,
“The real story is interesting, but conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that it is not the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive. The photo displays members of the team who worked on the Windows Vista DVD hologram design. Microsoft’s Anti-Piracy Team designed a counterfeit-resistant digital “watermark” for the non-encoded surface of Windows Vista DVDs. The photo in question is only one of multiple images contained in the hologram design, all of whose inclusion serves to make it more difficult to replicate a Windows Vista DVD.”
One mystery was solved, however the true identities of the three Vista Ghosts were never revealed.
Check out Egg Heaven for a database of more Easter Eggs. My personal favorite is the Excel 97 flight simulator.