A quick look back at the launch and promotion of Windows 95 28 years ago today


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Apr 24, 2016
These days, the release of a new PC operating system, or indeed most any PC software product, is handled almost exclusively online. We just download the update on our systems, and then complain about any bugs that might show up on Reddit. However, a few decades ago, we actually went into stores to buy software.

That was certainly the case for Windows 95, which launched 28 years ago on August 24, 1995. It may be hard to believe now, but back then, the debut of this successor to Windows 3.1 was more than just the release of an OS. It was a true media event, similar to the launch of a big-budget video game or movie release today.

On the launch day, The Washington Post remarked about how Microsoft had spent as much as $300 million to promote Windows 95. It did stunts like turning the lights in New York City's Empire State Building to red, yellow, and green colors, which were the same colors that were in the Windows 95 logo. In Toronto, the CN Tower went a bit further with a huge 300-foot banner showing the now iconic Start button on the OS.

Microsoft held its own launch event at its Redmond, Washington headquarters on that day. Bill Gates, of course, was there to demonstrate the event, and the company brought in comedian and Tonight Show late-night talk show host Jay Leno to make a bunch of fairly unfunny jokes.


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