Frustrated mouse jiggling may have actually sped Windows 95 up

The late 90s. Rachel haircuts. Tony Blair. Scrunchies. Panda Pops. Look-in. The X-Files. A simpler time and, in the world of computers, a much more time-consuming time. Downloading an mp3 of MMMbop via Audiogalaxy on dial-up (we personally never did this and you can’t prove anything, copper) used to take aeons. Windows 95 tried its best, but it could never perform at the speed our hearts desired. As the little progress bar slowly filled with little blue chunks, we would grit our teeth and jiggle our mice around so that the cursor danced angrily on screen, as though that would help!

Well, maybe – just maybe – it did.

A thread on StackExchange (via PC Gamer) posits that jiggling your mouse in frustration when Windows 95 was being slow as hell may have actually sped the operating system up.

“This is because of a flaw in the way Windows 95 generates events, and the fact that many applications are event driven.

“Windows 95 applications often use asynchronous I/O, that is they ask for some file operation like a copy to be performed and then tell the OS that they can be put to sleep until that operation finishes. By sleeping they allow other applications to run, rather than wasting CPU time endlessly asking if the file operation has completed yet.

“For reasons that are not entirely clear, but probably due to performance problems on low end machines, Windows 95 tends to bundle up the messages about I/O completion and doesn’t immediately wake up the application to service them. However, it does wake the application for user input, presumably to keep it feeling responsive, and when the application is awake it will handle any pending I/O messages too.

“Thus wiggling the mouse causes the application to process I/O messages faster, and install quicker. The effect was quite pronounced; large applications that could take an hour to install could be reduced to 15 minutes with suitable mouse input.”

Hmmm. We want to believe…

Wireframe #17 is out now.

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