Microsoft Home

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Microsoft Home is a defunct line of software applications and personal hardware products published by Microsoft. Microsoft Home software titles first appeared in the middle of 1993. These applications were designed to bring multimedia to Microsoft Windows and Macintosh personal computers. With more than 60 products available under the Microsoft Home brand by 1994, the company's push into the consumer market took off. Microsoft also announced at that time Microsoft Plus!, an add-on enhancement package for Windows, which was continued until the Windows XP era. The range of home software catered for many different consumer interests from gaming with Microsoft Arcade and Entertainment Packs to reference titles such as Microsoft Encarta, Bookshelf and Cinemania. Shortly after the release of Microsoft Windows 95, the company began to reduce the price of Microsoft Home products and by the rise of the World Wide Web by 1998, Microsoft began to phase out the line of software.

Titles[edit]

Microsoft Home produced software for all different uses and environments. The products are divided into five categories: Reference & Exploration, Entertainment, Kids, Home Productivity and Sounds, Sights & Gear. The category in which the product was divided is identifiable by the package. Generally, Reference & Exploration products have a purple base color, Entertainment has a black base color, Kids has a yellow base color, Home Productivity has a green color and Sounds, Sights & Gear products have a grey or red base color. Note that many applications were developed in conjunction with other reputable software and reference companies. For example, Microsoft Musical Instruments was developed with Dorling Kindersley.

Reference & Exploration software[edit]

Microsoft Home Reference products brought information to Multimedia Personal Computers - it was an effective way of presenting and exploring information before the World Wide Web became mainstream. These products were embellished with hyperlink navigation systems, which were relatively new at this time. Most of these products were released on CD-ROM, giving the software the ability to display high-resolution graphics and animations, and play high-quality waveforms and MIDI files. These products proved that personal computers would revolutionize the way that we find and explore information.

Name Year of Release Retail Price when New
Microsoft Encarta 1993–2009 US$99.95/CAD$139.95
Microsoft Encarta Africana 1999-2001 (Later merged into Encarta)
Microsoft Bookshelf 1987, 1992, 1994-2000 US$69.95/CAD$99.95
Microsoft Cinemania 1994-1997 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Automap Streets (then Streets Plus & Microsoft Streets & Trips) 1995-Present
Microsoft Automap Road Atlas (then Trip Planner & Microsoft Streets & Trips) 1995-Present
Microsoft Music Central 1996-1997
Microsoft Complete Baseball 1994-1995 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Complete NBA Basketball 1994-1996 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Complete Gardening 1996
Microsoft Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide 1996
Microsoft Oceans 1995
Microsoft 500 Nations (North American Indian tribes and civilizations) 1995
Microsoft World of Flight 1995
Microsoft Ancient Lands 1994 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Dinosaurs 1993 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Dangerous Creatures 1994 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Dogs 1995
Microsoft Musical Instruments 1992 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Isaac Asimov's The Ultimate Robot 1993 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Art Gallery 1994 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Wine Guide 1995
Microsoft Julia Child: Home Cooking with Master Chefs 1995
Microsoft The Ultimate Frank Lloyd Wright: America's Architect 1994 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Composer Collection 1995 US$79.95/CAD$109.95
Microsoft Multimedia Mozart: The Dissonant Quartet 1992–1995 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Multimedia Beethoven: The Ninth Symphony 1992–1995 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Multimedia Schubert: The Trout Quintet 1992–1995 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Multimedia Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring 1992–1995 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft Multimedia Strauss: Three Tone Poems 1992–1995 US$59.95/CAD$79.95
Microsoft BOB 1995 US$99.00/

Entertainment[edit]

In the early 1990s, games on personal computers generally ran on the now obsolete MS-DOS operating system. However, with the introduction of Microsoft Windows 3.1x in 1992, Microsoft Home published several entertainment applications that implemented the new technologies of Microsoft Windows. Furthermore, these applications encouraged the computer gamers of the time to migrate from MS-DOS to Microsoft Windows. This transition permitted better use of computer graphics, revolutionized game programming and resulted in a more realistic gaming experience[citation needed]. For example, Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack Games have remained a classic for computer gamers, ever since their development in the early 1990s[citation needed].

Name Year of Release Retail Price when New
Microsoft Fury3 1995
Microsoft Deadly Tide (underwater fighting machines) 1995
Microsoft Flight Simulator 1982, 1993-2006 US$49.95/CAD$64.95
Scenery Enhancements for Microsoft Flight Simulator Version 5.0:
  • Microsoft Caribbean
  • Microsoft Japan
  • Microsoft Paris
  • Microsoft New York
1995 US$34.95/CAD$49.95
Microsoft Golf 1993-2001 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Golf Championship Courses:
  • Mauna Kea Championship Course
  • Banff Springs Championship Course
  • Pinehurst Championship Course
1993 US$24.95/CAD$34.95
Microsoft Space Simulator 1995 US$49.95/CAD$64.95
Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack 1995 US$24.95/CAD$34.95
Microsoft Arcade 1993 US$34.95/CAD$44.95
Microsoft Return of Arcade 1998
Microsoft Revenge of Arcade
Microsoft Pinball Arcade 1998

Kids[edit]

Microsoft Kids Logo

The Microsoft Kids division produced educational software aimed at children during the 1990s. Their products feature a purple-skinned character named McZee who wears wacky attire and leads children through the fictional town of Imaginopolis, where each building or room is a unique interface to a different part of the software. He is accompanied by a different partner in each software title.

Tying in with the TV series, Microsoft Scholastic's The Magic School Bus was a highly successful series that continued to be sold after Microsoft Home's kids range of software turned into a subsidiary called Microsoft Kids.

Name Year of Release Retail Price when New
Microsoft Scholastic's The Magic School Bus: (This was a series of software based on the television series of the same name. The user had to solve puzzles based on science in order to complete the game.)
  • Explores Bugs
  • Explores in the Age of the Dinosaurs
  • Explores Inside the Earth
  • Explores the Human Body
  • Explores the Ocean
  • Explores the Rainforest
  • Explores the Solar System
  • Explores the World of Animals
1994-2000 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House (A game designed by Gahan Wilson designed for kids to explore an eerie Haunted House populated by strange inhabitants.) 1993 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Creative Writer and Creative Writer 2 (Word processors released in 1994 and 1996 respectively aimed specifically at children).[1] 1993 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Fine Artist (Drawing program that looked and felt similar to Creative Writer.) 1993 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Ghostwriter Mysteries for Creative Writer 1995 US$19.95/CAD$29.95
P.J.'s Reading Adventures (Collection of three storybook adventures for children, Paul Bunyan, How the Leopard Got His Spots and Koi and the Kola Nuts.[1]) 1995 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft 3D Movie Maker [1] (Children oriented program that allowed them to create their own movies using preset character animation and sounds) 1995 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker (This version used characters from the popular Nickelodeon shows) 1996 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Explorapedia: (These were 2 interactive kids-oriented encyclopedias. It contained 400 articles accessed by clicking the appropriate picture in the environment.)
  • The World of People
  • The World of Nature
1995 US$49.95/CAD$69.95
Microsoft Plus! for Kids (Windows 95 Plus Pack for Kids) 1995 US$24.95
My Personal Tutor (Software instructed learning for preschool to first grade) 1997 US$54.95
ActiMates Toy characters and software titles based on Barney & Friends 1997 US$64.95 for TV Pack and PC Pack, US$34.95 for software titles.

Home productivity software[edit]

Name Year of Release Retail Price when New
Microsoft BOB 1995 US$99.00
Microsoft Great Greetings for Microsoft BOB 1995
Microsoft Bob Plus Pack 1995
Microsoft Money 1994-2008 US$14.95/CAD$24.95
Microsoft Publisher 1993-Present US$99.95/CAD$139.95
Microsoft Publisher Design Packs:
  • Microsoft Publisher StyleLine Design Pack
  • Microsoft Publisher Design Pack
  • Microsoft Publisher Special Occasions Design Pack
1993 US$39.95/CAD$54.95
Microsoft Greetings Workshop 1996-2002
Microsoft Picture It! (rebranded as Microsoft Digital Image) 1996
Microsoft Home Publishing 1999-2000
Microsoft Works 3.0 for Windows 1994 US$99.95/CAD$139.95
Microsoft Works 3.0 for Windows on CD 1994 US$99.95/CAD$139.95
Microsoft Works 4.0 for Macintosh US$99.95/CAD$139.95
Microsoft Works and Bookshelf '94 1994 US$99.95/CAD$139.95

Sights, Sounds & Gear[edit]

Name Year of Release Retail Price when New
Microsoft Scenes screensaver and wallpaper program
  • Sierra Club Wildlife Collection
  • Sierra Club Nature Collection
  • Undersea Collection
  • Sports Extremes Collection
  • Personal Collection
  • Outer Space Collection
  • Flight Collection
  • Hollywood Collection
  • Brain Twister Collection
  • Stereogram Collection
  • Impressionist Collection
1994 US$24.95/CAD$34.95
Microsoft Natural Keyboard 1994 US$99.95/CAD$129.95
Microsoft Mouse 1993 US$64.95/CAD$84.95
Microsoft Windows Sound System Version 2.0 1995 US$59.95/CAD$84.95
Microsoft Home Mouse 1995 US$44.95/$59.95
Microsoft SoundBits (sound schemes)
  • Microsoft SoundBits - Hanna-Barbera
  • Microsoft SoundBits - Hollywood
  • Microsoft SoundBits - Musical Instruments
1992–1994 US$24.95/CAD$34.95

Legacy[edit]

Current products[edit]

Discontinued products[edit]

References[edit]

  • Microsoft Home Software Catalog Winter/Spring 1995 (from Microsoft The Ultimate Frank Lloyd Wright) 1194 Part No. 098-56862
  • Microsoft Knowledge Base