Surprise! Microsoft Windows 95 Mobile was actually sort of real

See smartphones get hit with a blast from Microsoft's past, Clippy included.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

The mid-90s saw the rise of clothing from The Gap, slap bracelets, the breakout of rapper Coolio and the arrival of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system, well before the advent of the ill-fated Windows Mobile for phones

A nostalgia-inducing concept video shows us what it would have looked like if Windows 95 and Windows Mobile had a smartphone lovechild. The resulting baby is suprisingly cute.

The video comes from YouTube animation channel 4096 and feels like a flashy modern phone ad, except everything you see on screen is delightfully dated. 

Revel in classic-looking Windows 95 icons like "Internet Mail," "Internet News," "Audio Player" and just plain "The Internet." The video also showcases an old-school version of Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer , with the browser throwing an annoying unexpected error message. 

It turns out Windows 95 Mobile has some real-life precedent. Steven Sinofsky, former president of Microsoft's Windows Division, tweeted a response to the video, saying, "this is pretty cute but the Windows team did this for real in 2011."

Sinofsky points to a 2012 Microsoft blog post he wrote on "Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture." The post shows an early Windows phone running the full Windows desktop, including a classic version of solitaire. The post clarifies, "This is not a product plan or even a hint at a product." 

This turns the Windows 95 Mobile video into a case of art imitating life. But of all the fantastic features you'll find in Windows 95 Mobile, one truly stands out: Clippy, a personal assistant that will rival Siri. If that doesn't make you want to buy a Windows 95 phone, then nothing will convince you.

First published June 27, 9:23 a.m. PT
Update, June 28 at 11:28 a.m.: Adds Sinofsky's tweet.