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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Windows 95 turns 10

It may be hard to imagine now, but people waited in line--for hours--to plunk down $90 for a copy of Windows 95 back on Aug. 24, 1995.

This was the Godzilla of product releases. Microsoft spent an estimated $300 million on the debut, which included untold millions to license the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up," and a cameo appearance by Jay Leno during a rollout party at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters.

"In London, Brits will be treated to a free copy of the Times newspaper courtesy of Microsoft, which is paying for a print run of 1.5 million, more than double the paper's average daily circulation. In Toronto, a 300-foot Windows 95 banner has been draped down the CN Tower, and New York's Empire State Building will be lit up in red, yellow and green--the colors of Microsoft's logo," according to a Washington Post report which ran one decade ago today.

Ten years later, and we're still waiting: This time for Windows Vista, nee Longhorn, the latest version of Windows which has been in some form of development since the beginning of the decade.

Will someone--anyone?--wait in line for a copy of Vista when it finally rolls out sometime next year? Hard to tell. It doesn't sound like Microsoft expects Vista's launch to live up to Win95's splashy debut.

"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," Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer told CNET in June.

Blog community response:

"10 years ago today Microsoft launched Windows 95. I vividly remember the launch and wanting a copy for myself and my mighty 486. I did in fact, buy a copy, and then return it after my computer coughed and garggled after installing it. It was then that I learned a quick lesson--'Minimum System Requirements' meant just that."
--My Life, v2.7

"I bought my first copy of Windows 95 just after midnight the day that it was released. A lot may have happened since then but nothing could compare in a geek way to the excitement that I felt that night buying the copy and then going home and spending an hour installing the software. And then nothing could compare to how slow that computer felt after running Windows 3.11 and the move up on a 486 with 8 megs of ram. I still sometimes feel that I have ram envy issues when I work with machines that are obviously more well endowed then that my own PC."
--The Most Boring Weblog in the World

"Congratulations to Microsoft, August 24, 2005 is the 10th anniversary of Windows 95 and Microsoft Network known as MSN. How many of my fellow geeks went to the local Bestbuy at midnight 10 years ago to get a copy? Well as I remember I was very young when Windows 95 came out, it was amazing looking at the gui interface after I installed Windows 95 on my machine."
--Nishi's Blogosphere