Happy birthday Windows95!

Wow, 15 years already… time does indeed pass by faster than expected.
I remember it well, my very first computer course I gave as an instructor at the VDAB Antwerp, where I was a lecturer on computer technology and application usage.
My first class of students didn’t even all have a computer at home, but had to use one at work.  Before, they worked in specific applications tailor-made for their work, but now their employer thought it was a good idea to get to grips with this new technology called Windows95.
I myself had been working with DOS and Win3.1(1) before and the occasional work on a Mac (during college) but this graphical beast that was Windows95 was something completely different.
I used to regard myself as a “command-line” user, coming from my trusty C64 in which everything was Basic, Basic and Basic.  I was so keen on my blue and grey screen, that I even waited till my last year in uni before I actually made the move to a PC.  I used to develop back propagation-algorithms (sort of an AI) and even created the uni’s student magazine on a DTP-style application on my C64, but it wasn’t until I had to write my final paper that I decided it was time to put my C64 to a well-deserved rest and start working on the PC.

So back to the VDAB years where I got my hands on a first copy of Windows95.  For me, it revolutionized the way in which we use computers today.  Gone were the black screens with a white prompt flashing… gone were the days of cryptic DOS-entries… here was graphical user interface with the Start button that we still see today in Windows Vista and 7 (although many people then and still today joke about the name as you had to go to “start” to “switch-off”).
Here also came the dreaded “Registry” (though it also existed in Win 3.11, but was never prominently discussed) in which programs, history and everything else seemed to end up.
Here also came the first installment of Internet Explorer.  Even if it serious lacked in functionality, and my computer courses on the internet purely focused on Netscape Navigator as a browser, it was a sign of things to come and the first in a series of antitrust court-cases Microsoft had to face.
It was also for many people the first contact with “plug and play”, although it was more “plug and pray” at that time (who doesn’t remember the Windows98 demonstration with Bill Gates on stage and one of his product managers plugging in a scanner, only to be greeted by a blue screen).
Nevertheless, week after week, I had full classrooms with people eager to learn how to use Windows95 and Windows surely propelled everything else we see today in home computing to a greater height.  It is without question, a landmark piece of software.

Looking back over these past 15 years, technology sure has come a long way.  And although the battle between Mac-users and Windows-users still continues, there has never been any true contender for the OS of choice of an entire generation.  Linux is still an OS for geeks, hackers and anti-Microsoft protagonists and even with a GUI like KDE, it still doesn’t appeal to the end-user who wants to use his PC for work, play and entertainment.  Macs still have that air of being for the “elite”, with prices nearly 4 to 5 times the base price of a good PC.  Perhaps the Chrome OS of the “we’re not evil” company called Google might be a contender, although I seriously doubt it can get a strong foothold in the PC market.  For the netbooks (where you use them primarily to browse the web), well maybe, but my general take on it is,that we’ll have many more iterations of Windows around for the next 15 years.

Happy birthday Windows95!

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One Response to Happy birthday Windows95!

  1. Great information, I just bookmarked you.

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