Almost 30 years ago, Microsoft created a menu code that was supposed to be a temporary solution for formatting disks in Windows NT. It was intended as an interim basic solution until a more advanced interface was developed. However, according to former Microsoft developer Dave Plummer on his X page, this temporary solution has stood the test of time, remaining unchanged even in Windows 11.

“I wrote this Format dialog back on a rainy Thursday morning at Microsoft in late 1994, I think it was,” Plummer writes.

According to the developer, Microsoft was working on porting billions of lines of code from the Windows 95 user interface to NT, and formatting was one of the areas where Windows NT was so different from Windows 95 that they had to come up with a different interface for it.

“I got out a piece of paper and wrote down all the options and choices you could make with respect to formatting a disk, like filesystem, label, cluster size, compression, encryption, and so on. Then I busted out VC++2.0 and used the Resource Editor to lay out a simple vertical stack of all the choices you had to make, in the approximate order you had to make. It wasn’t elegant, but it would do until the elegant UI arrived,” Plummer recalls.

Despite the considerable age of this element of the Windows interface, it has lived for almost 30 years, and it seems that Microsoft does not even plan to change it. This is generally logical, since most modern users don’t even know about the existence of this menu, and the interface still works without any problems.

Interestingly, according to Plummer, he also had to decide what the volume size limit for the FAT format would be, and he arbitrarily chose a maximum size of 32 GB, which is where its common name, FAT32, comes from.

“That limit was also an arbitrary choice that morning, and one that has stuck with us as a permanent side effect,” says Plummer.

It’s worth noting that Windows can read FAT disks larger than 32 GB, and FAT itself supports volumes up to 2 TB in size, but you’ll need third-party utilities to create them.