The Windows 95 launch was the iPhone launch of its day. On Aug. 24, 1995, crowds lined up to purchase what Microsoft promised was the biggest transformation yet in desktop computing. Where did they line up? At stores, which were still at the time really the only way outside of mail-order that the average consumer could buy software.
The hype surrounding the release of a new desktop operating system — an operating system! — probably looks a little mystifying to anyone born after 1990. But today's teens have little memory of a time when Apple was a struggling also-ran computer maker, Microsoft was an unstoppable force of innovation, and cellphones were luxury items the size of bricks. Windows 95 wasn't even a radical departure from what had come before. It still relied on file folders and, well, windows as its prevailing visual and organizational metaphors. But it also introduced Internet Explorer, which while reviled by web developers was until this year the leading way the world browsed the web.
While Microsoft is reportedly pouring $1.5 billion into the marketing of Windows 8, its launch Friday just doesn't have cultural significance of its forerunner's release 17 years ago. This is in part because of when it arrives in the history of personal computing (late) and in the arc of Microsoft as a business (late). The launch of Windows 95 in a sense was the close of a chapter rather than an opening: It was the last time Microsoft owned the conversation... More at Wired.
I remember the hype well and even though I was not too aware of Windows, it seemed like a massive leap at the time.