Loading user information from Channel 9

Something went wrong getting user information from Channel 9

Latest Achievement:

Loading user information from MSDN

Something went wrong getting user information from MSDN

Visual Studio Achievements

Latest Achievement:

Loading Visual Studio Achievements

Something went wrong getting the Visual Studio Achievements

Folder naming errors- But Why?

1 minute, 9 seconds


Right click “Save as…”

Microsoft is full of oddities and little known answers to mysterious questions. The purpose of this series is to seek out those answers and offer them to you. Please comment with other questions you'd like to get answered!

Watch other episodes of But Why?


Follow the discussion

  • Oops, something didn't work.

    Getting subscription
    Subscribe to this conversation
  • OK. System.Exception is not abstract. Why?

  • Bent Rasmussenexoteric stuck in a loop, for a while

    I don't think this is targetted at programmers as such, more like end-users of Windows and maybe Office. Laura, clarification? Smiley


    (Having System.Exception not be abstract sounds kind of handy, if anti-FX cop - but why not an interface instead - well, may make catch block behavior a bit "interesting" due to multiple inheritance.)

  • Interesting and short video, but I was craving a little more in depth information... Maybe it's just me.

  • This particular episode isn't targetted at programmers but there will be tons of these- we will definitely hit a few for programmers specifically in the future! Thanks Smiley

  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)

    I'm digging this new content. Keep it coming...I may just have to visit channel9 more often...(is that even possible?)

  • MinhMinh WOOH!  WOOH!

    no audio in Silverlight 3...


    I can play the "Dare to Dream" video just fine

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change

    But why are we still maintaining MS-DOS era naming restrictions when MS-DOS has not been a part of at least 3 iterations of Windows (beginning with Windows 2000, I believe, so now 4 iterations....)?


  • These are "device" names, and they are still in use even if DOS has been erradicated. Use CMD to test for yourself. Now, we can ask why Windows doesn't evolve into a more POSIX like scheme here (/dev/null and other such pseudo files), but that's a much more complicated discussion.

  • I'm sure there are many oddities in Windows which would garner the same response, "but why" from most people.  LPT1 is the most humorous example.  How many of us have parallell printers anymore?  They might be an obsecure one here and there, but for the most part, it's all USB.


    What amazes me more is that people get frustrated that you can't use "?" in a file name.  I'm sure there is also a perfectly good explaniation.


    The one thing I always wondered was why MFC has the prefix AFX (I know the answer, but why?)  and why Word has the executable name "winword.exe" and Excel has the executable "EXCEL", there really isn't any consistency there.


    Thanks Laura for the factiod Smiley



  • Reserved name? That's Why. You didn't need to do a video just for saying 2 words! I was hoping for a geeked out explanation and instead all I get is "Reserved name". Even n00bs know that it's a reserved name!

  • stevo_stevo_ Human after all

    Seems like a gui version of what would be raymond chen command line.. although this explained the reasoning it didn't explain why today we should give a f-- about DOS.

  • Yea, no kidding.  I wish that Windows had a Unixish like shell.  We have PowerShell, so maybe I should stop whinning.  It would be nice if Windows has native SSH support Smiley

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change

    Legacy is a ball and chain Smiley

  • ? * can't be used because they are "file globbing" characters. There's other characters that can't be used as well, such as : as it's used to separate the volume from the path. What you may find even more surprising is that there's differences here based on the file system in use (FAT or NTFS).

  • Adam SpeightAdam​Speight2008 The Bandito Coder

    Why does Microsoft Update f**k mess with the display settings? (Even when the display driver isn’t being updated.)

    I ask because every time it updates it swap monitors, changes resolutions, the bar is on the wrong screen even when you tell it the other is your main monitor.

  • jason818_253.33jason818_25​3.33 Yippi skippy

    Why does my PC take so long to boot up?

    Why no building 7? The real story.

    Why is Ballmer still the CEO? Big Smile

    Why doesn’t note pad have a spell checker?

    Why no pop up "helper" called Clippy in MS word? On second thought scratch that last question.


  • Hah- these are great guys- keem 'em comin!

  • I still use a parallel printer : it's an IBM InfoPrint 12 (works very well) on Windows 7. It supports USB, but I couldn't find a way to make it work with seven. Only using a generic driver can I use it, and it doesn't work with USB.

  • Awesome... Keep 'em coming. Wink

  • Adam SpeightAdam​Speight2008 The Bandito Coder

    Why does it take forever for help to appear when you press F1 in Visual Studio?

    Why doesn't Microsoft declare a date from which a legacy applications will no longer be supported or be executable by the O,S.?

     eg No longer supply the vb6Runtimes etc. Only .net applications.

  • Ramramooon LongCat

    WHY can't we declare a class in C# that has a property named "Foo" and a method named "get_Foo" at the same time ? Wink

  • Why as a user I cant create a name for a folder like ".f01" but when I do it from code it is possible?!!!

  • Jeff KlawiterJeff Klawiter try { something; } fault { nothing; } catch { everything; } finally { succeed; }

    Well I may not have a parallel printer anymore but I work with hardware that uses serial and parallel ports for an interface. It is very common in the Point of Sale world to still use those interfaces. Things are slowly moving to USB or IP based connectivity but sometimes that is just overkill for a low power, low bandwidth interface like RS232.

  • Jeff KlawiterJeff Klawiter try { something; } fault { nothing; } catch { everything; } finally { succeed; }

    I can try to answer a few of those


    1. Help loves to search and index new content when launching.

    2. To keep customers happy and keep the press down about "the new windows breaks applications"

    3. See #2. VB6 runtime comes with Win 7


  • ChevalN2Cheval Why not null?

    Why does file access performance suffer the deeper it is in a path? eg. \path\file is quicker than \\share\path\path\path\path\path\file


    Especially after the first time the file was accessed. Caching anyone?


    ps. this is also why I don't really like the breadcrumb style history concept. You can't fully break down directory structures.

  • Bent Rasmussenexoteric stuck in a loop, for a while

    Virtualization ftw!

  • Adam SpeightAdam​Speight2008 The Bandito Coder

    Charles: Legacy isn't a ball & chain, it the damn Mother-In-Law.

    (You may have to put up with her but it doesn't stop you wish she was dead.)


    Maybe its time to disappoint a few customer to lay the groundwork and fundations of the next generation of operation system.

    Am all new windows APIs (none of the previous exist), with a simpler dependancy model.

    A casuality of this would be killing the Legacy Support.


    I agree you could use virtualization to support legacy. the only way in the new OS.


  • Cool series concept (love the title graphic).  Now do an episode on MAX_PATH.  Or two or three or four ...  Tongue Out

  • @jason818_253.33

    No kidding.  Why doesn't Microsoft pick a "pad" and go with it.  I mean, Wordpad gets the ribbon, and as far as I can tell Notepad only got an updated dialog when you attempt to exit without saving.  What is up with that?  It's a bit dissappointing.


    We can all ask dozens of why questions, here are few more:


    - Why doesn't Windows have a real terminal (sorry I just can't let it die)

    - Why doesn't Windows support SSH out-of-the box?

    - Why doesn't Microsoft release "Windows Developer Edition", and allow devs to pick and choose the components they need.  It's make me crazy we have to buy Ultimate or Enterprise to get "Boot from VHD".  I feel like I'm being nickled and dimed to death sometimes.

    - Why is Microsoft licensing so confusing?

    - Will Microsoft open-source more of it's software?

    - Why did Microsoft close-source Paint.NET?  Why did they remove the open source downloads?

    - Why did "Windows Vista" take so long to get to market - the real story?

    - Why doesn't Microsoft develop all things in the future with .NET, we have managed extensions for C++, what's holding you back?

    - How do Program Managers, Product Managers, SDET's, and SDE's differe in role and responsiblity


    Those are just a couple...



  • And a few more Smiley


    Why is it opening compressed folders in Windows Explorer is so slow?

    Why Windows (7 included) allows me to create files and folders with names in (practically) any national alphabet, but doesn't allow me to send them to a compressed file?


  • I love this new series.  Keep up the good work Laura!  These are great. 





  • If you still want to create folder with name con, lpt1, etc. try following:



    Prefix “\\.\” with full physical path where you would like to create the dir and create folder using command prompt.




    D:\test>mkdir \\.\D:\test\con

  • Laura,


    I wish there was a way we could order videos by the highests number of discussion comments.  From what I can remember, you're videos are up there. great job Smiley



  • Laura,


    Actually one more, is there a way in Windows 7 or Vista to tell Windows Explorer for once and for all to always show my folders in one view (i.e. details) no matter what they contain.  Seriously! Seriously! Seriously! I know what view I want, Windows doesn't, stop trying to be so smart and get out of my way...


    I apologize for my outburst, but it's the one feature (to me it’s a bug) of Windows that causes me to invent swear words.






  • The one thing I always wondered was why MFC has the prefix AFX (I know the answer, but why?)


    If you know the answer then that pretty much explains why, doesn't it?  Wikipedia makes it pretty clear:


    One interesting quirk of MFC is the use of "Afx" as the prefix for many functions, macros and the standard precompiled header name "stdafx.h". During early development what became MFC was called "Application Framework Extensions" and abbreviated "Afx". The name Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) was adopted too late in the release cycle to change these references.

    Short for "Application Framework Xtensions"



  • Adam: They tried that already. It was called Longhorn. It didn't work out. 


    See Things You Should Never Do, Part I.

  • ivan_ivan_ g

    Is Microsoft planning to have a Ph.D. program in Microsoft Licensing?

  • I like to know why if you boot in safe mode when the dos screen is loading the files some are in directory Drivers some are in DRIVERS why the difference.


    Hope this makes sense.

  • Ha, Yes, I didn't phrase my question correctly.  I wanted to know it was renamed, It's so confusing, and when I first learned MFC, I had to go look it up. 


    For example, the product code name Astoria was renamed to "ADO.NET Data Services".  Seriously, Astoria sounds so much better, and people remember it.  Please don't rename Azure to something like "Microsoft .NET Cloud Framework 1.0".



  • Dorian MuthigDodo I'm your creativity creator™ :)

    Geeked out explanation: con is a reserved name for the console. It can be used to direct the default text output to the screen. A common usage scenario would be a batch file, which's output was directed to a text file or the line printer (lpt1, lpt2) to use the screen as output method for a single command.


    @wkemf: The question mark could be used in filenames, because using a single character wildcard would not exclude it. It was however used in the 8.3 character filename days as the first character in the FAT for deleted files. Deleting a file would replace it's first character with ?.

    If you feel the need to use a reserved device name as a folder name or filename for a file without extension, add a Unicode fill in character. Rightclick into the input field and select Insert Unicode control character -> ZWJ or ZWNJ. And if you need to use reserved characters, you can use their wide-latin equivalents. That's fairly easy, if you have the Japanese or Chinese keyboard layouts and IMEs installed.

  • jason818_253.33jason818_25​3.33 Yippi skippy

    I had to look this one up on the internets to find out if it was true or not.


    Why hasn’t Willie Nelson done any marketing for Microsoft? Seriously  Big Smile 

  • BassBass Knows the way the wind is flowing.

    You could BSOD a Windows 98 box attempting to access the file C:\con\con


    You can get creative on the methods of accessing this file.


    This was a major source of lulz for me back in the day.

  • I'd love to know if the age old rumour that there's an 'if (powerpoint)' statement in the Windows message pump(s) is true!

  • You can't use a question mark (?) in a file name because it's a wildcard just like the Asterisk (*), the difference is that the question mark is a wildcard for just one character.

    and if you try to enter a file name with a "?" in a save file dialog box, the save button will act a bit like a search button.

    so the "?", "*" and all other forbidden characters are so because they are reserved for other file/folder uses.

  • I guess that's because when you compile, the get part of the property is changed into a method called get_PropertyName, so having a method with that name will be like defining a method twice.

  • The Word executable has the name winword.exe because there was a widely used DOS version before the first Windows version. Plenty of system back when might have both installed to suit different users. Excel, on the other hand, had no DOS version. It was ported from the Mac to Windows, and thus didn't need a filename that distinguished it from another PC platform version.

  • Golnazgolnazal HEY HEY HEY

    open thread.

  • @golnazal:


    This can be possible using DOS command prompt mkdir c:\con\

    mkdir c:\aux\



Remove this comment

Remove this thread


Comments closed

Comments have been closed since this content was published more than 30 days ago, but if you'd like to continue the conversation, please create a new thread in our Forums, or Contact Us and let us know.