In what has surprised me greatly, nobody has submitted anything to us regarding this day in the history of computing. Sure, memories of her may not be fond, and with the magical unicorn power of hindsight you’d rather forget you ever dated her so intensely, but she served a purpose. She led a revolution that changed the world forever, and while you may have hoped for a more charismatic leader, I think it’s unfair not to honour the fact that she turned 15 today.
The release of Windows 95, 15 years ago to the day, was one of the biggest – if not the biggest – software releases in history. Microsoft really went to town on this one, from licensing Rolling Stones songs to paying for 1.5 million copies of The Times so they could be distributed for free in the UK (twice as much as average circulation).
It paid off. Within just two years of its release, 70% of the world’s desktop computers ran Windows 95, which is pretty damn impressive. While it may not have been the most architecturally sound piece of operating system engineering, and while it sure did have its flaws, it was the undisputed leader of the personal computing revolution of the ’90s, taking hundreds of thousands of people by the hand to introduce them to the world of computing.
“After three years of development, a year of delays and months of the most intense hype ever to attend a product launch, the bespectacled Microsoft chairman, complete with pudding basin haircut, declared that the new ‘operating system’ would ‘unlock the potential of personal computing’,” The Guardian wrote about Windows 95’s launch.
And unlocking it did. I’d say Windows 95 is one of the most important pieces of software ever created, whether we want it to be or not. Its role in the popularisation of personal computing is undisputed, and despite the fact that nasty tactics were involved, it’s part of our history now and we should acknowledge that.
Happy birthday, you miserable old cow.