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MSDN Home > MSJ > April 1997
April 1997

Hey, did you know that the Star Wars Special Edition has a computer-generated Jabba the Hut in it? Lordie, if we have to listen to one more enraptured DJ, network anchor, or talk show host gush and fawn over this we're gonna hurl. We thought Microsoft was a marketing leviathan, but clearly the nerds from Redmond are no match for the wookies from Marin County. It amazes us how every single media person is willing to mindlessly regurgitate the same trite Lucasfilm-supplied factoids and play the exact same film clips without one accompanying word of criticism. And all that blather about George Lucas' creative genius—puh-lease! His marketing acumen (and his retaining the Star Wars merchandising rights) demonstrates his talent far more than any special-effects retrofit could. Creative genius—feh! You can't kid us—we actually sat through THX1138.
     It's not as if we don't like the Star Wars flicks. Hell, we're writing this as we wait in line for hours to see the slightly tweaked version (hope they got rid of all those bounding boxes). We just wonder if we need our heads examined, given that we've already shelled out good money multiple times in the past to obtain the VHS, VHS THX, LaserDisc CAV THX, and LaserDisc CLV THX versions, not to mention all those one-penny Columbia House copies.
     While we won't be waiting for hours in line to pick up a copy of Visual Studio 97 (we already have one), you can certainly expect us to spend hours of time installing it. After all, it's a harmonic convergence of four languages (Visual C++, Visual J++, Visual Basic, and Visual FoxPro), a great new Web authoring tool (Visual InterDev), a help system (MSDN), and a galaxy of install programs. Next month, expect the entire issue to be dedicated to detailing the features and revealing some neat tricks that will help you get the best results from Visual Studio 97.

     We can't say much about Visual Studio 97 before the huge Microsoft Developer Days event on March 19th (check out, but we can let you in on one little secret now. The long-awaited COMMCTRL.H file—yes, the one with the Date/Time picker, the CoolBar, and all of those other things that Strohm Armstrong talked about in his “Previewing the New and Improved Common Controls DLL for Microsoft IE 4.0” series (MSJ, October and November 1996)—is finally included as standard equipment, which means you won't need The Force to figure out this month's article on ToolTips.
     Another Microsoft product announced this month, perhaps to a different audience, is the ActiMate Barney. On the outside it looks like that purple PBS dinosaur that was all the rage with preschoolers some number of years ago. But on the inside, it contains a CPU that programmatically shovels praise and comforting melodies into young minds. In addition to the ActiMate doll itself, parents can pick up a special device that connects to their VCR or PC, allowing it to communicate via radio to the Barney doll. We were wondering exactly how this works. When a toddler drools on the doll, does it transmit a WM_LBUTTONDOWN event to your PC, which then responds by causing Barney to spring to life and ask, “Are you sure you want to restart me in MS-DOS mode?”

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