Of all the things to bitch at Microsoft about, this has to be one of the most petty reasons I've ever seen. What should they do? Sure, they "should've" had the foresight to use long filenames way back in the eighties, just like various developers should have had the foresight to sacrifice a little space to store two extra digits and avoid the Y2K problem. Unfortunately, they didn't. Disk space was an extremely limiting constraint back then.

So what could they do? Is it really that hard to understand? I hated Windows 95 (I was a DOS fanatic, I didn't hate Microsoft, just Windows) with a passion when it first came out, until I realized I could run multiple programs and DOS windows simultaneously. Unfortunately, I had eight megs of RAM at that time, so I still kind of hated Windows with a passion as it endlessly parsed my hard drive no matter what I was or wasn't doing, but I decided against completely deleting it from hard drive. "Wow, I can be in DOS, and play Solitaire, and be on the Internet!" It was my first experience with usable pseudo-multitasking, and it worked, damnit (I was aware of UNIX's long heritage as a multitasking OS but never used it except on shell accounts). I still use "DOS" all of the time, and find that it is not that difficult to visualize the eight character filename in most situations. The basic formula is as follows:

  • Take the first six characters of the long filename/foldername you want to access, not counting spaces. My Documents, for example, would be MYDOCU.
  • Assuming this is the only file that has these exact first six characters, add a "~1" to the end. My Documents becomes MYDOCU~1.
  • If the file has an extension, add it. If the extension is longer than three characters, truncate it to three characters. For example, "I AM YOUR DADDY.MPEG" becomes "IAMYOU~1.MPE"

If the what you are trying to access is not the only file/folder in that directory that has those first six characters and that specific extension (if applicable), you may have to use "~1," OR "~2," OR "~3," and so on, based on which files/folders were created first...but it doesn't really come up that often.

Microsoft = M = middle-endian


An abbreviation of the full name Microsoft resembling the rather bogus way Windows 9x's VFAT filesystem truncates long file names to fit in the MS-DOS 8+3 scheme (the real filename is stored elsewhere). If other files start with the same prefix, they'll be called micros~2 and so on, causing lots of problems with backups and other routine system-administration problems. During the US Antitrust trial against Microsoft the names Micros~1 and Micros~2 were suggested for the two companies that would exist after a break-up.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

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