A little bit of Windows History

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of Windows 95 to the public.

The advertising campaign was thought to be the most expensive in history, coming in at $300 million total. The Empire State Building was decorated in the Microsoft windows flag colors, the London Times was given away for free, and the Rolling Stones "Start Me Up"* was licensed to herald the event--for $12,0000,0000 US.

There is a full article about the release, archived from the Washington Post. It might be worth a glance if you are a computer geek with an interest in the history of computing.

Especially noteworthy are some of the entertaining quotes near the end.

My personal favorite? It's a toss up between two industry players of the time.

DataQuest Inc.'s VP Chuck Stegman: "The extraordinarily extensive testing they did makes a show-stopping bug a pretty unlikely occurrence. Someone would have stumbled on it already."

And Tim Breuer, IBM's spokesman for the OS/2 system: ""Microsoft is delivering the same features we delivered seven years ago. We're moving on business as usual here."

Of course, Windows 95 was so riddled full of instabilities in its first release that many people saw Win98 as very little more than a stable version of the same program. In fact, a lot of us think of Win95 as just a three year beta test for Windows 98.

After all, the typical windows crash was so commond that it became a cultural phenomenon. It got its own nickname, the Blue Screen of Death, and with it a certain amount of notoreity, and even items of clothing dedicated the horror it visited on us all.
Not that us users always minded. Sometimes a little joking fun is healthy, right guys?

And OS/2 Warp, once trumpeted by IBM as a multitasking powerhouse, has long since disappeared. Many of us remember the old wordplay rumour that it should be avoided because "OS/2 is warped." Some of us perhaps even remember the old OS/2 advertising campaigns based on the slogan "Can your software do this?" If the challenge was to fade quietly into obscurity due to weak marketing and rumours of a non-intuitive interface and horrendous learning curve. . .then no, Windows 95 couldn't do that.

At least on my computer, it was too busy crashing.

*As Slashdot pointed out: that song contains the prophetic line "You make a grown man cry."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


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