The One Hit Wonder in Version Control (Microsoft Delta)

Just like Microsoft Test, Delta was another obscure software product from Microsoft back in the early 1990s that I hadn’t known about over the years. Also like Test, Delta doesn’t get much coverage on Google and you’ll just see Delta Airlines.

Developed internally, the focus was with software development projects and provided version control on source code, otherwise had been known as VCS or version control system.

Delta would be typically deployed in a corporate network where each developer would have Delta installed on their workstations, but no components would be installed on the server. A project would be shared amongst the company’s peers where files could be shared either directly on their workstation or hosted on a server, and allow synchronisation of the project’s progress amongst the workstations. Although files such as Word or Excel documents could be included in a project, normally the files in a project would be source code, icons, forms, etc. that would collectively be used to complete a software application.

As I discovered from a review on Delta 1.0 in an issue of InfoWorld dating back to June 1994, it was a particularly expensive product for its time. It was $495 US for just one user, $2,079 US for five users, and a whopping $7,920 US for a 20 user license. In return Microsoft gives you a single floppy disk to install from.

System requirements were modest only needing a 386 with 4 MB RAM, and 5 MB of hard disk space. The combination of MS-DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1 was also required, though it wasn’t supported on Windows NT.

Installing Delta is very quick and simple as shown here under Windows 3.1.


Installing Microsoft Delta.

Before you know it, Setup completes and requires you to reboot your PC.


End of Setup.

Once back into Windows only the application and a readme icon are created into their own program group. The readme file is handy if you wish to see what changes were made after rebooting as AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, and SYSTEM.INI require adjustments for Delta to run correctly.


Delta 1.0 in Windows 3.1’s Program Manager.

Loading up Delta this is the end result before working on any project. Initially you’d almost believe it was a replacement for File Manager, though as you’d imagine it’s to view the project files.


Delta 1.0’s interface.

Delta’s lifespan was exceptionally short, and by November 1994 Microsoft announced that they acquired a company named One Tree Software who were based in North Carolina, USA. One Tree Software had their own VCS application that was known as SourceSafe reaching up to Version 3.0. After the acquisition the product was renamed as Visual SourceSafe and Microsoft released Version 3.1 in February 1995, leading to Delta’s demise.

Since then, Visual SourceSafe had been around for some time with another four versions being released, though it was a long time between drinks from Version 6.0 in 1998 to the next and final Version 2005 in January 2006. Microsoft is to end extended support for the final version on 11th July 2017.

Visual SourceSafe had subsequently been made defunct and the current VCS software is now Team Foundation Server. The lastest version only was announced literally a couple of day ago – Team Foundation Server 2017.

write_iconInfoWorld’s Robert DelRossi wrote a comparison review between Delta 1.0 and PVCS Version Manager 5.1.1 a competitor at the time in their June 1994 issue. Robert’s opinion was that out of the two, PVCS Version Manager was a better buy.





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