Back when I was a fair bit younger, my father and I upgraded our old 286/486 to a snazzy Pentium and a fresh copy of the just-released Windows 95. I seem to recall a strange Easter egg on the upgrade process which I've tried searching for and am unsure whether I remember it correctly or not.

When installing the new operating system, a dialog appeared notifying the user that 'The hard disk is about to be formatted and all data will be lost', with an 'ok' and 'cancel' button as well as a countdown timer of sorts. However when you attempted to press either of these buttons, they would shift across the screen away from your cursor, while the countdown continued towards zero.

When it reached zero, with a flustered user desperately trying to press either button, a message appeared along the lines of "just kidding", and the installation process continued.

I'm not sure if this was part of the actual Windows install process, or some obscure third party thing. However I was wondering if anyone else recalls such a user experience?

  • 2
    Only tangentially related but I seem to recall Vigor doing something similar. Mar 8, 2021 at 8:03
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    I'm guessing third party. Although there were easter eggs in Windows up until 2002 I doubt very much they would put one in such an important process as the install.
    – Alan B
    Mar 8, 2021 at 8:58
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    My guess is that you confused a memory of some kind of prank software for the actual installation process. Mar 8, 2021 at 11:10
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    Yeah, it’s hard to imagine: “Okay, so this is it. This is Windows 95. We’re finally going to push a genuine 32-bit operating system, a chance to transition from the restrictive cruft of DOS and finally fully own the corporate OS landscape; this could be the one that makes us unambiguously the stewards of the PC, completely unseating IBM” “Yeah, Bill, that’s all cool, but look at this hilarious prank I put in the installer! The FTSE 500 companies will laugh so hard!”
    – Tommy
    Mar 8, 2021 at 14:02
  • 4
    Following up on that, is it possible that, in those more innocent times, you may have ended up with some sort of cracked version of Windows 95? This sounds like exactly the sort of thing crackers would add. Maybe your friendly local components supplier threw the disc in for free, keeping provenance artfully ambiguous?
    – Tommy
    Mar 10, 2021 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


It definitely wasn’t Windows 95 itself.

In fact, the usual Windows 95 installer doesn’t even offer to format or partition the hard disk unless it determines that it cannot continue otherwise, so it definitely could not have happened during an upgrade. This is how a format prompt looks:

Microsoft Windows 95 Setup: Windows files cannot be installed on your hard disk because the format of drive C is incompatible with Windows 95. You can have Setup reformat drive C for you, or you can quit Setup now and reformat drive C yourself.

To get this screen at all, you need to start the installer from OEMSETUP.EXE, and not SETUP.EXE as was typical; but if partitions are already set up on the hard disk, the former leads straight to the latter anyway. There’s no countdown, and it runs in text mode with no mouse input at all, so no buttons moving away from the mouse pointer either.

As for what the asker actually remembered seeing, I have no idea. I vaguely recall seeing a prank like this at some point, though in my memory it was running on an already-installed 9x system.

In this video a number of disk formatting prank programs are tried out, some of which exhibit behaviour similar to what is described in the question; especially at the 3:58 mark. (Some of them look like they were meant for a different language edition of Windows, hence the mojibake.) Perhaps one of them will look familiar.


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