Microsoft misfit helped lead company into game market

Windows inserted itself between game programs and the computer hardware in a way that slowed down graphics and animation. Game developers vastly preferred the DOS operating system, which didn’t gum up their special effects.

That created an opportunity for three Microsoft misfits—Eric Engstrom, Alex St. John and Craig Eisler.

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Mr. Engstrom, who died Dec. 1 at the age of 55, and his pals formed one of several factions within Microsoft trying to solve the game problem. Openly contemptuous of colleagues who didn’t share their ideas, they were so obnoxious that Brad Silverberg, who ran the Windows business, dubbed them the Beastie Boys. He had to fend off frequent demands for their dismissal.

Yet the solution they…

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