Fifteen years ago today, Windows 95 was released.
(Who’s feeling old now?)
Many would remember the adverts, which hit TV screens around the world, to the tune of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up”.
It was arguably the first modern version of Windows (despite it still apparently having DOS under the hood), and arrived just before the Internet went mainstream, so for many people it and the subsequent versions are what most people became familiar with.
It was certainly the first version of Windows with a Start Menu, and other features such as long filenames (not limited to the DOS convention of eight characters plus an extension), and Plug And Play (allowing you to plug in devices and have the system work out which drivers were needed) — which at the time didn’t work nearly as well as was implied in the literature.
Users of Mac and other platforms would argue that Windows was just playing catchup, and that’s probably true, but for those of us in the dominant Windows world, it was a big step forward.
I remember the launch day well because part of the hype involved lots of promotion, and via a radio station truck parked outside work, I won a copy. Which was good, because I’d intended on buying it for myself, to run on my mighty new computer, the one with the Pentium 60 MHz CPU and 8 Megabytes of RAM.
And here for your geeky viewing pleasure is one of the brochures…
Note that it promises “pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading”, another feature that wasn’t nearly as good as promised. They promised it again in Windows NT 4 a year later, but arguably it never really worked up to expectations until multi-core CPUs (eg hardware, not software) came along.
- From Geekrant 2005: Windows 95 turns 10
- Ancient Geeks: A short history of MSN
- Update: The old Rod Irving advert for the computer I ran Windows 95 on