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Windows 95: The Big Release

by Henry Jerkins

The launch day of Microsoft's operating system for personal computers, Windows 95, was an important day in Microsoft history.

As a bit of background, according to a Microsoft press pack, before Windows 95 was launched, sales of Windows 3.1 had reached the point where somebody, somewhere on the planet was using a newly purchased Windows product on the average of every 1.5 seconds!

And then came August 24, 1995:  The big day.  For on this day, William Henry Gates 3 (or if you don't know who we're talking about, let's call him Bill Gates) would launch Microsoft's new product, Windows 95!

Windows 95 might very well have been Windows 93 or something else, since it was scheduled for release in 1993.  But numerous technical problems and then the unexpected rise of the Internet delayed the launch twice. 

With it's fifteen million lines of code and access to Microsoft's recently established internet service, Windows 95 was finally ready.  

Aside from the expected television interviews on everything from Today to Larry King Live, a few more extravagant publicity stunts included:

- One of my favorites is that in Australia, Microsoft was giving five hundred dollars in cash to the first ninety-five babies born on launch day.

- In New York, the Empire State Building was lighted up with Microsoft colors, that is red yellow and green.

- The London Times were given away for free the day before the official party, with the ad: "Windows 95.  Office 95.  So good even The Times is complimentary."

- Though the exact amount is unclear, it is estimated that Microsoft paid twelve million dollars to use rock group Rolling Stone's song "Start Me Up" for commercial purposes. 

At 12:01 AM on August 24, as the date arrived in stages around the world, Windows 95 went on sale to the public.  The very first copy was sold to a business student in New Zealand.  A line of 900 people was reported at a single Comp USA store in New York City. 

In Redmond, Washington, an enormous tent accommodated a huge, official, successful party where host Bill Gates was launching this most innovative upgrade of Windows - Windows 95 - to his 2,500 guests that included journalists from around the world, computer manufacturers, political bigwigs and Jay Leno of The Tonight Show

Fourteen other tents housed computer manufacturers and software companies that had tailored their own new products to Windows 95.

Jay Leno mentioned that he had gone over to Gates' house and found the VCR blinking 12:00 - some technical genius, that Gates.


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