Windows 95 turns 25 years old today. The operating system was possibly the most significant and notable release for the Redmond giant, which laid the foundation for some core elements of the OS, such as the Start Menu Taskbar, and the Recycle Bin that are still present, albeit in a much more modern form. It also marked the phasing out of MS-DOS, with it being merged with Windows into one offering, making it more user-friendly operating system.
Windows 95 is the most impactful and most significant operating system release of all time – hands down. Windows 3.x laid the groundwork, mostly in corporate environments, getting people accustomed to and interested in Windows at their jobs. When it came time to get a computer at home, Windows 95 knocked it out of the park. It was a massive one-two punch that knocked out every single competitor, with Apple only surviving because Microsoft allowed them to.
A computer on every desk and in every home, and Windows 95 was installed on every one of those computers. It’s easy to forget just how massive and hysterical Windows 95’s launch was, and the fact Windows 10 today still looks and behaves in essentially the same way as Windows 95 underlines just how many things Microsoft got right.
If you’ll allow a revisionist history. IIRC when Windows 95 was first released, Microsoft thought “information at your fingertips” meant MSN dial-up (for a service similar to AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy) and encyclopedia-like CD-ROMs. Netscape deliberately waited in the weeds before unveiling Navigator, I think, and then Bill Gates sent his infamous “The Internet Tidal Wave” email to the troops. Microsoft acquired the Spyglass browser, rebranded it as IE, and came out with WIndows 95 R2 with IE bundled with the OS and configured as the default browser in typical Microsoft fashion.
There was even a R2 for Bill Gates’ book “The Road Ahead”… new and improved, with coverage of the Internet.
Oh the memories. I bought a special issue of a computer magazine dedicated exclusively to Windows 95, a few weeks before the official launch. I salivated all over it.
A WIndows 95 uninstaller program won an award in 1995. I was an early migrant from Apple OS and was not that surprised people wanted to ditch W95. So it can’t have been all cookies and cream. It had a feature to :”discover your devices” , which was of course a no brainier on an Apple. The WIndows version was awful, hanging your PC for a long time before giving up, every time. Or so it seemed.