I’ve mentioned the work of NCommander before, when I posted a link to his video about getting DOOM to run on an IBM RS/6000.
Another interesting game-related video he’s made is about the beloved old pinball game that was included with Windows during the XP days, but vanished with Vista. The game’s exclusion was the subject of a blog post by former Microsoft developer Raymond Chen, who mentioned that he had trouble getting the game to work correctly under 64-bit Windows. The ball kept clipping through objects, and sometimes falling through the plunger and out of the table. NCommander’s examination indicates that the problem was probably related to floating point precision as Chen had said, but that the cause was probably more complicated than that, and may have had to do with issues getting the game to run correctly on Intel’s ill-fated Itanium architecture, their first attempt at a 64-bit processor.
NCommander’s explorations were made possible by the discovery that, although there was no way to get the installer to offer it, the 3D Pinball game files are on the CD for the various editions of XP for Itanium. For more information, I refer you to the video, embedded above.
Notably, Chen has responded to NCommander’s video with more details about the game’s removal, which make the story even more interesting, bringing in Alpha AXP, a second obscure 64-bit architecture that could run Windows XP.
It should be said that all of this is much more technical than the usual post here. Please don’t freak out too badly if this makes little or no sense to you. We’ll have something marginally more comprehensible for you tomorrow.