Nasty Software Hacks and Intel's CPUID

We were discussing nasty software hacks today at lunch. The worst hacks are always in software, but those software hacks have an insidious tendency to seep into the hardware, too. I was reminded of Intel's infamous CPUID hack:


This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/08/nasty-software-hacks-and-intels-cpuid.html

Since Windows 2000 wasn’t in wide release at the time, and Intel wanted to avoid this tech support issue, the family code had to be changed to avoid a conflict with Windows NT.

By the time P4 got released at around the end of 2000, Windows 2000 has existed for almost a year.

Looks like Windows 10 had the same issue! Per a Microsoft dev comment on Reddit:

Microsoft dev here, the internal rumours are that early testing revealed just how many third party products that had code of the form

if(version.StartsWith("Windows 9"))
{ /* 95 and 98 */
} else {

and that this was the pragmatic solution to avoid that.

Really? Wow, that’s hilarious!

Also, from the same thread:

https://searchcode.com/?q=indexOf("windows+9")

https://searchcode.com/?q=startswith("windows+9")

Looks like there’s plenty of software out there that actually does check the version that way.

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