Magazine article Information Today

Windows 95: The Launch

Magazine article Information Today

Windows 95: The Launch

Article excerpt

Until you've witnessed a Microsoftngiieetcd bash, you've never really lived. It's been that way for a long time, way back before the CD-ROM confernce in Anaheim where they served lobster for lunch. But that was just a dry run for August 24, 1995--Launch Day--the day Windows 95 was officially released for sale. We'll be keeping. our press badges from this one for a long time. Where were you when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon? Where were you when they released Windows 95? We were there!

Dave Hoffman, Irs editor, asked me to go because I live just across Puget Sound from Seattle and Redmond. I agreed and took my executive assistant, Carol Gill. Dave planned to experience the event from a convention center in Philadelphia. I got to go to the real thing. I promised to wave if the cameras came nearby.

Yes, it was hype. Of course it was hype, but it was the best of hype! Helicopters flew over the Microsoft campus in Redmond the entire day. You couldn't turn the channel and see anything but Windows 95. Airplanes trailed banners behind. A ferris wheel twirled round and 'round. Signs from other Microsoft groups jealous of Windows 95 hung from entire floors of adjacent buildings. "Visual C++ BUILT Windows 95!" proclaimed one. "Windows NT, official network of Windows 95," shouted another. This one prompted an apology from Gates. "I didn't realize they felt left out," he said. Even Apple joined the fray. "C:\ONGRTLNS.W95" could be seen on billboards and busses. Don't they know? With Windows 95 you can have filenames over 250 characters long. Hah!

Five hundred reporters showed up, bussed in from Seattle after a monster reception the night before. Several hundred beta testers, guests, and employees--2,500 altogether--came to see Jay Leno and Bill Gates press the "START" button for the first time.

Launch 95 happened in a huge circus tent wired for multimedia. It's a Microsoft trademark to have huge screens scattered above the audience; these screens enlarged those who were speaking so everyone could see them. Strobe lights scanned the audience from the peak of the tent. So did security.

The Windows 95 logo twirled before the blue sky and light clouds theme. A huge START button gave a backdrop to the stage. Hype you say? Why not? Seventy-seven babies born to the development team during the project. Two hundred twenty-two person-years of programming. Ten million lines of code. Fifty thousand beta testers. Over 2 million hours of stress testing.

So does Windows 95 have bugs still? Sure, probably. Are you going to wait six months to see? Why bother waiting? Install it anyway. Now!

At the end of the presentation the stage pulled to the side. The entire backing of the stage dropped away to reveal the Windows 95 development team on tall bleachers, dressed in the Windows 95 colors. These were the 200 or so people who made Windows 95 happen! The audience filed out to the Stones' "Start Me Up!" music as the development team did "The Wave" (a Seattle invention, thank you), and each group wildly cheered the other. It was a dramatic moment. I know. It's hype! It's hype, but it sure felt good!

"I don't want another hat!" said Carol. "I think they ought to give us a copy of Windows 95."

"Nah," I said. "They'll give you a mug."

"I've got a mug!" she said.

We wandered around the vendors' tents and took a look at all the products ready for Windows 95. Most were networked to the Web. I called up our library's home page on a few--pretty credible response time for going through a modem. Microsoft Office 95 is shipping now. That's Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access--all notably different, a tighter blend between the programs and faster. …

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