Twenty-Three Years of Windows Launch Oddities

By  |  Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:30 am

predictaLater today in New York City, Microsoft will be hosting its Windows 7 launch event. I won’t be there, but I have a good excuse: I decided to stay home in San Francisco and go to the last day of the Web 2.0 Summit to see Tim Berners-Lee speak. I hope everyone who makes the trek has a good time, but I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that nothing transpires that leaves me kicking myself for not attending. (Microsoft plans to stream the event live starting at 11am EDT, so those of us who aren’t there can check in on the festivities.)

In lieu of being at the 7 launch, I’ve been revisiting old clips relating to Windows launches past. Join me, won’t you?

Windows 1.0

This supposedly dates from 1986 and therefore may not technically date from the launch of Windows 1.0, which shipped in 1985. But no retrospective of Windows-related stuff would be complete without it.

Windows 3.0

A clip from the Windows 3.0 coverage by Stewart Chefeit’s public-TV series The Computer Chronicles. Eerily foreshadows Windows 7 with its description of Windows 3.0 as a reaction to Windows 2.0’s lukewarm reception, its touting of 3D elements in the user interface, and the coverage of the general enthusiasm for the product.

Windows 3.1 (?)

From Japan, something indescribable–I choose to believe this is real and not somebody’s art project.

Windows 95

More Computer Chronicles: Jay Leno doing Windows 95/Clinton schtick, a little girl who’s an amazing forerunner of Kylie, and more.

Bill Gates, Windows then-honcho Brad Silverberg, and a truly gigantic Windows 95 box.

Windows XP

I shot this myself at the Windows XP launch in New York City, which took place six weeks after 9/11/2001. It was therefore a rather somber affair–the most memorable moment by far was an unannounced walk-on by Rudy Giuliani–but the only part I captured on video was Regis Philbin’s wacky XP Webcam demo, which didn’t work (surprise!) and ended with his sincere but confused endorsement of the new OS.

Wow, a remake! Steve Ballmer returns to Billy Mays mode, along with the equally boisterous Microsoft exec Brian Valentine, to pitch XP in what’s presumably an internal corporate video.

Windows Vista

Japanese geeks line up at midnight for Windows Vista. Wonder how they felt after they got home and installed it?

Windows 7

Finally, the already-legendary Windows 7 Launch Party video–I still can’t tell if its hokeyness is utterly sincere or a brilliant put-on. I just know it’s mesmerizing.

What’ll happen at today’s launch? Kylie will reportedly be there; so, presumably, will Steve Ballmer. I expect at least one surprise celebrity (not counting any Microsoft cofounders who show up), and give 50/50 odds that something will go wrong in an amusing way. I also suspect that humor will be had at Apple’s expense. If you watch the stream, let us know what you think…


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Seumas Says:

    It’s nice to have a reminder that the whole “we just don’t get it and are not hip and can’t produce promotional material that doesn’t make you cringe and pull away” thing has always been a Microsoft staple and isn’t anything new. I had completely forgotten the Jay Leno thing ever happened and it’s fitting that they choose one of the least funny comedians and most blank, uninteresting, lowest common denominator people to kick off a Microsoft operating system.

    On the other hand, Balmer is at least amusing and energetic in his usual odd way. If that were to come out today, I’d think “wow, that guy is nuts and I totally want what he’s selling!”. On the other hand, the “Windows 7 Party” video would make me, if I were a Windows user at heart, cringe and format my hard drive. It’s as disconcerting as a sincere conversation about douching.

  2. ariel Says:

    I started using Windows 7 Beta a few months ago and in my opinion it’s pretty good. It is much quicker and programs don’t lag when you have a lot of stuff working at once. There are some cool features that Microsoft introduced into Windows 7 and I think the overall user experience is much easier and simpler now. Microsoft took Windows 7 seriously, after Vista they really had no choice. I have written extensively about my own experience using Windows 7 and I hope you can find it helpful. Please comment and let us know.

    It is still too early to know what kind of problems may come up in the future using Windows 7, but on the whole I think it will be a cool operating system.

  3. ariel Says:

    Windows 7 Beta is quite good. I started using it a while ago. When you keep a lot of programs open it doesn’t seem to lag. There are some nice features that Microsoft introduced into Windows 7. I found it faster and easier to use. It’s a serious improvement on vista and I think it’s a necessary one. I have written in some detail about Windows 7 Beta and my experience using it. Please take a look at it and comment on what you think.

    Because Windows 7 Beta is still so new it’s hard to know what problems it could have in the future but it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic operating system.

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