25 years ago: Microsoft changed the game with the launch of Windows 95
Why it matters: Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the consumer launch of Microsoft Windows 95, arguably one of the most important and influential operating systems in computing history. It was the first version of Windows that really targeted mainstream consumers, and Microsoft’s marketing efforts made sure to drive that point home.
The company put together a television commercial featuring The Rolling Stone’s “Start Me Up” (referring of course to the Start button) and even produced a 30-minute Windows 95 video guide starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry of Friends fame (it was the mid-90s, after all).
Needless to stay, the promos worked.
When it launched on August 24, 1995, it was widely considered to be the computer industry’s biggest ever product launch. It was an event, not all that different from early iPhone product launches, with people lining up hours in advance to get their hands on a copy.
Windows 95 doesn’t register on market share charts these days but during its heyday, it was quite popular.
Microsoft reportedly shipped a million copies within the first four days. IDC said that by mid-July 1999, Windows 95 was installed on 57.4 percent of desktops the previous year and was continuing to outsell Windows 98.