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24th August 2015

Microsoft’s most loved operating system, Windows 95, is 20-years-old today (

Windows 95

“Most loved?” I though that was XP—except by me.

“When Microsoft kicked off work on Windows 95 way back at the beginning of the 90s, the company wasn’t to know how much of an impact it would have on our lives two decades on. In one fell swoop the new version of Microsoft’s OS brought a swish graphical user interface (GUI) to desktops…”

Obviously not the first though, even Windows 1.0 was indeed a GUI for MS-DOS, so I guess “swish” is the keyword here:

“…for the first time and the much vaunted Start menu began life inside the mid-1995 edition of the OS. … With 20 years under its belt, it’s a fine time to have a look back at some of the moments that defined the popular OS which was Windows 95.”

It certainly was a big thing and, indeed, I still recall bringing it home from PCWorld on the first day. Of course, it looks clunky today. Then again, if you sweeep away the selective reminisce, it looked—and especially felt—clunky back then, which was pretty much the Windows experience. I recall I had to duel boot with Win 3.11 because 95 didn’t play well with the copy of Visual Basic I’d hooked from school which made the experience even more clunky.

“When release day arrived on 24 August 1995, Microsoft had long been a byword for the incredible success of tech startups on the West Coast and the release of Windows 95 saw no expense spared. Given that the Start menu was such a big part of the OS, it felt apt that Bill Gates went big and secured the rights to Rolling Stones hit ‘Start Me Up’ for a reported $8 million to $14 million (a figure later denied by Microsoft).”
Mick Jagger

Who, unlike the OS which became progressively un-clunky after, were certainly on the progressively long slope down to clunky—for sure, Mick Jagger already looked like he had sang “Crank Me Up” for the wartime ENIAC—and were not the first choice, that being R.E.M. who turned them down for “ethical reasons”/because they were too busy watching Friends.

“Microsoft introduced a range of new features to Windows 95 that have stood the test of time almost completely unscathed to this day. The biggest of these innovations was the Start menu that made it easier for Jennifer Aniston and any other ‘goofs’ using the system for the first time to navigate around it.”

Thus proceeding to mythologise any who recalled an understanding of command line MS-DOS functions which, ironically, you still had to “Start Me Up” to do many essential batch things beneath the GUI, or rather those mythologised DOS gurus did.

Windows 95
“Keeping Windows 95 relevant was a tough task given the amount of investment that was going on around it, and to make sure the OS wasn’t left behind Microsoft turned to the Service Packs that we’ve all become very used to in subsequent versions of Windows. Among the features that had to be added were FAT32 support, IE (courtesy of Plus! for Windows 95), DirectX, InfraRed, USB, and of course all the bug fixes that have to be applied to any OS worth its weight in bytes.”

And there perhaps is the real unsung heroine, USB; for sure, hot-swapping peripherals today is taken for granted but some still wince at the mention of parallel, serial and SCSI.

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Illustrations, paintings, and cartoons featuring caricatured celebrities are intended purely as parody and fantasised depictions often relating to a particular news story, and often parodying said story and the media and pop cultural representation of said celebrity as much as anything else. Who am I really satirising? Read more.

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