Ballmer: Longhorn biggest release since Win95

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Microsoft is expecting a lot from Longhorn, the next version of Windows set to debut sometime next year. But CEO Steve Ballmer doesn't see the launch generating the consumer frenzy of Windows 95's release.

In an interview with CNET News.com, Ballmer recalled the fervor surrounding Win95's debut:

Q: We're coming up on the 10th anniversary of Windows 95's launch. You said that event generated the most excitement of any Microsoft product launch. Can you recapture some of that excitement with Longhorn?

Ballmer: I think Longhorn is going to be the biggest release we have done since Windows 95. It's going to be a big thing, but I don't think we should have expectations that we will have people lined up at midnight to buy a copy, necessarily, despite the fact that Longhorn is a huge deal. I think it's bigger than anything else we've ever done--except Win95. In a sense, technically, it's much bigger than Windows 95.

But with Windows 95, you kind of had an alignment of the sun, the moon and the stars, right? There was no Internet to speak of yet. All of the action was still on the client. Win95 was a merger of MS-DOS and Windows, which in itself was a big event. There was something in it for hardware makers, there was something in it for software makers. There was kind of an alignment of events that made the launch much bigger than the product itself--things outside of Microsoft's control, things that we were the beneficiaries of. I'm not sure all of the stars will align for Longhorn, but it's a huge release and it will drive the consumer market.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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    Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.

     

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