The Top 8 worst Microsoft promo videos

We count down some of the worst Microsoft promotional videos of all time.

You thought that Microsoft Vista video from earlier today was bad? Watch these.

Lest we forget the turgid history of some other horrifically bad promotional videos from Microsoft that will forever be burned into our brains. Here are some of my top picks:

8. Steve Ballmer Sells Windows 1.0


Do plaid suits make you think of Crockett and Tubbs? Didn't think so, but apparently now-CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer thought it would be an accurate attempt at making Windows Write look more useful than Word, which at the time was not yet working very well with Windows. In his pre-"monkey boy" days Ballmer could still get things cooking though. Who else would get this excited about Reversi?

7. Windows 98: It's a Series of Tubes


What makes this one great is that this is probably what Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens saw before making his famous "series of tubes" speech. An e-mail is sent out and makes a perilous journey through the neon tunnels of the Internets. When actually delivered, the e-mail comes into the woman's laptop as a glowing sphere of light, as well as to everyone else including a young boy who is clearly far too young to be working as an employee of Global.com. Between that, the completely unnecessary espionage subplot, and the cameo by stillborn WebTV, this one is a keeper.

6. Microsoft Flight Simulator X (a.k.a. Virtual Air Traffic Controller)


See what they did here? You can buy a $50 software title and not even have to play it. You can just sit at home and help other people have fun by pretending to be an air traffic controller. Even better, couples can play together, the young and old can play together--it was like the Nintendo Wii, but before its time. Then end it all with an obligatory multicultural odd-couple moment and you've got one of the greatest promotional videos ever made.

5. If MS Vista Launches, and Nobody is There to See it...


Can't get anyone to buy your fancy new operating system? Try making a slick video of your company blowing a ton of money on promotions worldwide. Then combine footage with explosive techno music.

4. Windows ME: It's Hammer Time


Look it's the same version of Windows Media player you've got in Windows 2000. But wait, we've got new keyboard protection in case your child attacks your computer with plastic hammers--forcing you to roll back your version of the OS to a more stable one. Oh yeah, there's also a new version of Internet Explorer that you don't need to upgrade your operating system to use. How ready are you to pay us $200?

3. MS-DOS 5 Upgrade (Give Me My 5 Minutes Back)


These working slubs were expecting a boring training session but look who turned up! It's some guy that's a cross between Bill Nye the science guy and crazy tax guy Matthew Lesko. He's got The Dreams with him, too! With such awesomely bad lyrics as "Free more memory can'tcha see, spring those K's that got to be free" how can you not want to upgrade?

2. Windows 386 Made Impossible


What could be in that large bag you ask? Why of course it's a Mission Impossible-style self-destructing tape. What's the impossible task? Using the latest version of Windows. How cute. That's not the weirdest part though--when "Linda" goes New Wave and begins rapping about making her charts hot it's an HR violation in the making. Don't forget to check out Part 2 here, or else you'll never know how the story ends.

1. The Windows 95 Ad that Offends Everyone


Parodies, bad costumes, even worse puns and the phrase "whip it on me" make this one of the worst offenders. Besides the fact that Windows 95 literally explodes out of a copy of MS DOS that's cut in half with a chainsaw, it's quickly followed up by screencasts put to saxophone music and an over-the-top actor who's constantly putting out David Caruso-caliber one-liners. The worst part? It's kind of enjoyable to watch.

About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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