Windows 95

Lot of my pals from Microsoft are sharing stories of the Windows 95 launch, and today I’d like to do the same. I was there. It was the first and last time the PC-era Microsoft PR team was actually nice to me — and as a result I got to attend the launch, though I never got to demo the software and had to go through retail channels to get it running on my heavily modded Gateway desktop.

Apparently I was the Sun guy to the Microsoft PR team, and the Sun PR team thought I was the MSFT dude. In other words, I wasn’t in any company camp, and that made me an unpredictable reporter. It also meant that I had to work hard: PR teams weren’t leaking suggestions to me. That neutrality served me well over the years and resulted in a lot of scoops. From that day, I remember the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up,” and I remember a young Jay Leno, both doing their acts for Microsoft (and a lot of money).

Anyway, Windows 95 was the product that finally sealed the company’s dominance in the market. It looked so unlike anything Microsoft had made before. After years of taking from Apple’s Mac OS, the company was finally forging ahead with a modern, fresh operating system that was distinctly different from all of its previous attempts. It was silky smooth and colorful. For the first time, I thought Windows was better than Mac OS, which had languished from neglect since Steve Jobs’ exit from the company.

At that time, Microsoft looked so inevitable and dominant. It couldn’t do any wrong, and money was coming out of its every pore. It was beating Apple to a pulp and totally ignoring the internet!

Fast-forward 20 years and the world is different. Microsoft never got the internet. It never got mobile. And today’s Microsoft isn’t the one of 20 years ago, full of swagger and take-it-all spirit. I guess that is what growing old means. The anniversary is a reminder that nothing, not even monopolies, are forever.

Google, Apple and everyone else who is out there thinking that they are king of the jungle should remember this golden rule: Nothing is forever.

We are talking about Windows 95 and sharing our memories and stories on my Facebook page. Come by and join the conversation.

A letter from Om

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