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Ten years ago, the blue-screen was born.
August 24, 2005 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Ten years ago today, Microsoft released a massive overhaul of their flagship product — Windows 95. It added support for 256-character mixed-case long filenames, pre-emptive multitasking, and protected-mode 32-bit applications. Detractors noted that its updated interface owed a number of debts to Apple's MacOS and IBM's OS/2. Most importantly, however, Windows 95 included built-in support for dial-up networking and a TCP/IP stack. Once this technology was widely-available, it was only a matter of time until the Internet became a household word.
posted by Plutor (80 comments total)

 
Add-on stacks for windows 3.1 worked pretty well. Anyone remember trumpet winsock?
posted by delmoi at 8:03 AM on August 24, 2005


Ten years ago this last April, I started my career by becoming the only tech support guy for what eventually became the largest ISP in Oklahoma. I can probably *still* walk someone through setting up Dial-Up Networking in my sleep.

The best thing about Win95 was that we didn't have to deal with Trumpet Winsock anymore. Oh, the horror.
posted by mrbill at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2005


Netscape Navigator "worked pretty well", too. But building something into the OS makes it accessible to a the far bigger non-techie market.
posted by Plutor at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2005


Builtin TCP/IP stack brought Internet to the masses, or was it, the masses on the internet brought the TCP/IP stack into the Win95 kernel?
posted by nervousfritz at 8:10 AM on August 24, 2005


Windows 95: you make a dead man come.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:11 AM on August 24, 2005


More nostalgia from Microsofties Joe Wilcox, Craig Rowland, two from Raymond Chen
posted by Plutor at 8:12 AM on August 24, 2005


Summary: Windows 95; Father of the Internet As We Know It.

Give me a break...
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2005


Anyone remember trumpet winsock?

Unfortunately.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:19 AM on August 24, 2005


Once this technology was widely-available, it was only a matter of time until the Internet became a household word cesspool.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:20 AM on August 24, 2005


Trumpet Winsock still haunts my dreams.

I miss the BBS. Oh wait, no I don't.
posted by selfnoise at 8:25 AM on August 24, 2005


alt.pics.fisting.anal
posted by Pollomacho at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2005


When Win95 came out, I was working as a clerk in a Seattle law firm. My task for a few weeks was to install Win95 on all of the attorneys' machines, one-disk-at-a-time. I forget how many floppies it came on, but recall the hours of time spent installing rebooting and re-rebooting. (and failing and restarting).
posted by kokogiak at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2005


Thirteen disks.
posted by Plutor at 8:35 AM on August 24, 2005


Trumpet Winsock and NCSA Mosaic, made for each other! Such a break from terminal emulation, thinking usenet was cool and being really interested in what compression system the modem used.

Credit where it's due though, almost all of the user interface innovations in Windows 95 have proved lasting, remember how radical they were at the time. It's been bettered, but Windows 95 was and remains, an exceptionally pretty piece of work.
posted by grahamwell at 8:39 AM on August 24, 2005


I miss the BBS. Oh wait, no I don't.

I do. There were generally only a couple of local numbers in your area, and the 30-45 minutes maximum time limit per day meant you could actually go outside and have a life. There was more accountability, too (I "voiced" all my users before granting access). I still remember when I first got elite access to my local board in the 80s. Stupid kids these days think 31337 is an internet-era thing. HA.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:40 AM on August 24, 2005


The bookstore chain I work for still runs Win95 on their computers.
posted by drezdn at 8:41 AM on August 24, 2005


trumpet winsock - bad memories, but it did work sometimes.
posted by caddis at 8:54 AM on August 24, 2005


Anyone remember trumpet winsock?

Only when I slack off on taking my meds...
posted by alumshubby at 8:56 AM on August 24, 2005


remember how radical they were at the time.

You mean... how radical... other people were... and had their ideas stolen and put into practice in Windows?

Come on. I hardly knew anything about computers, much less the politics of the OS wars, and when I first got Windows 95, I remember thinking "gee, this is starkly similar to the three or four really nice Mac machines in the computer lab that only the teacher gets to use."
posted by odinsdream at 8:58 AM on August 24, 2005


odinsdream:Summary: Windows 95; Father of the Internet As We Know It.

Give me a break...


Are you asking us to give you a break from that fact, or asking us to give you a break from accepting that as fact?

It's not "Father of the Internet", it's the "As We Know It" that's important. Prior to Windows 95, there were no web pages dedicated to copy/pasting animated GIFs and hosting a place to advertise your thriving collection of beanie babies. It was a simply line of demarkation: If you were one of those people, you wouldn't have been inclined to get on the web in the first place, as it was just too hard to manage without something pre-built into the OS.

At the ISP where I was consulting at the time, we had packaged up an install disk for new users that included Winsock, Mosaic, and a host of minor applications (for Telnet, FTP, and the like) so that folks would at least have them prior to trying to use the service cold. The conversations I had with people over the phone still give me the ANGAR.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:59 AM on August 24, 2005


You mean... how radical... other people were... and had their ideas stolen and put into practice in Windows?

No, he meant how radical it was a departure from the prior version. Get down off the OS-Wars-High-Horse for a minute and admit that Windows 95 was something good for the PC platform.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:00 AM on August 24, 2005


AFAIK with Windows 95 Microsoft was pushing the Microsoft Network (yes MSN) as an ALTERNATIVE to the Internet, no? Wasn't MSN some kind of dial-in service à la Prodigy then? It was like Microsoft wanted to beat the whole Internet to the finish line (fools).
posted by zenzizi at 9:05 AM on August 24, 2005


My version came with Weezer's "Buddy Holly". That was awesome.
posted by Mephistopheles at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2005


I still have my MSN Beta Tester "Squash the Bugs" T-Shirt. Works great for washing the car.
posted by mrbill at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2005


I watched from my Linux box as everybody swarmed to this buggy POS. Win98 SP2 was finally Win95 "done right" (even though it was still pretty damned nasty.) 95 itself was just a dog's breakfast.

But it was truly awesome to be able to knock anyone off the Internet with "winnuke" or "jolt" for about two years (until MS fixed the gaping holes in their TCP stack).
posted by wakko at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2005


I remember working for Symantec, supporting Norton Utilities for Win95 at that time. It was a great learning experience - no, really. The training was second to none there. We weren't allowed on the phones until we practically could walk someone through a rewrite of the boot sector of a hard drive. The built-in TCP/IP stack was something, too.

I did end up, after that, having to support Trumpet Winsock, as part of supporting the retail version of Netscape, and I really felt the horrible pain of it. And I, too, can close my eyes and walk someone through DUN setup. (I used to do that to annoy co-workers at a job at an ISP. Lean back, close my eyes, and walk them through, including the DNS info for the ISP.)

I also remember the fun value of finding out the department assistant manager, a compete ass, hadn't patched his TCP stack and left his machine winnukeable. Everyone had an icon on their desktop - we'd click it and crash his machine, if we felt he was being a twit.
posted by mephron at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2005


If you open the credits folder and wait long enough, my name scrolls by. I must admit I'm still a bit proud about that. It might not have been perfect, but it did get done.
posted by daver at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2005


Windows 95 was a revolution that made life a heck of a lot easier. For this unpaid-computer-support grad student shlub, at least.

I do remember Trumpet, and kermit (yes kermit provided a tcp/ip stack, sort of), and x/y/z-modem, and trying to get OS/2 to talk to anything but an IBM printer, installing different printer drivers for every goddamned piece of software that you owned (hello Wordperfect and Lotus 123). Windows 95 finally got away from all of that. It worked out of the box, most of the time.

Sure it was bletcherous and sure it was Evil Inside, but it worked so much better than even Win4WG 3.1 or Win + Trumpet or Win + Novel, that it gave me back at least half a day every work week.

We still use it in the lab today. I've got half a dozen old HP 5890 GC's still running Win 95 because they won't run anything else. They hook up to the lab network just fine, an do their data dumps every night without problems. Been chugging away for at least 12 years now, still producing top quality results. In fact, they're of date, we don't worry about viruses on them anymore, because the bad guys are all targeting NT/200/XP systems now.

Mind you, Win 95 was an absolute bitch to find a FORTRAN compiler for. Even MicroSoft Fortran had trouble running under Win 95.
posted by bonehead at 9:37 AM on August 24, 2005


From a end-user, perspective:

DOS - stupendous, fundamental, earth-shaking, literally did 'change the way we work' (it's a computer, can run applications)
3.11 - gigantic leap forward, astoundingly accessable (GUI)
--- at this point the two truly huge innovations are done ---
win95 - interesting improvement (looks nicer, I can actually succeed installing new hardware like a better sound card once in a while so that's fun, and less crashing)
2K - never heard of it
XP - noticeable mostly by it's more colorful glossier appearance and of course the requisite less crashing than the previous version feature
longhorn - who cares?

Yes, I too un-fondly recall the horrors of trumpet winsock and kermit, installing from floppy, incompatible third party hardware and software and drivers and reboot after reboot after reboot to change just about anything... ugh.

But 95 cleared a lot of that up and looked at from a users perspective pretty much made Windows feature-complete. It was good enough and all done 10 years ago and the OS hasn't functionally changed much since. What can a person accomplish with a PC today that they couldn't 10 years ago (that's attributable to the OS)? With 95 you could process words, crunch numbers, surf the web, play games.

95% of all changes since 95 have been under-the-hood and aimed entirely at people in the industry such as developers, tech support etc.
posted by scheptech at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2005


This was almost as big a deal as hearing that Jerry died!
posted by bukvich at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2005


OH MY GOD, settingup tcp on win 3.1 was a frelling nightmare. As much as i hate(d) win95. it was much easier to deal with tcpip with.
posted by MrLint at 9:46 AM on August 24, 2005


Doesn't anyone remember Newt ? At work we had Netmanage Chameleon for a TCPIP stack for Win3.1. PC-XWare was fun, too ! I used to run the DOS Telnet program that had its own built-in stack as well for those times when I didn't want to boot Windows. Loved those packet drivers.
posted by rfs at 9:58 AM on August 24, 2005


Metafi~1: bad memories, but it did work sometimes.
posted by gimonca at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2005


I have to say that I liked Win95. I multi-booted between Windows and Linux (slackware!), and I was reluctant to upgrade from Win3.1. I even installed some freeware that would give my win3.1 interface the look and feel of win95. However, ultimately, win95 was the way to go. It finally got windows "right." Plus, a bunch of us were impressed that it turned off your computer for you when you shut down.

But forget accessibility to the internet-- if you were in college, you had this available already, by hook or by crook. What really made Win95 a boon was the fact that you could easily share your files across the network... just look in your "Network Neighborhood" and you could see all of the picture and video and music archives everyone had left public for all to see. From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to Napster.
posted by deanc at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2005


scheptech, your end user must only buy Microsoft Monthly.

DOS - stupendous, fundamental, earth-shaking, literally did 'change the way we work' (it's a computer, can run applications)
No, it didn't. It literally did ... exactly the same as CP/M.

3.11 - gigantic leap forward, astoundingly accessable (GUI)
Gigantic *what*? Do you remember File Manager? Program Manager? This when the Mac was already showing how both those things should be done. It wasn't even fit to be called a copy.

--- at this point the two truly huge innovations are done ---
Innovation implies inventing, whereas DOS was just a lift of CP/M, and Windows 3.1 was a botched-together GUI prompted by the Macintosh's prevailing winds. They weren't huge, they weren't innovative. MS's business practices were, but that's a different story.

Oh, and the "updated interface" of W95 owed a hell of a lot more to NeXTStep, stealing as it did the window controls and turning the Dock into the Start bar than it did either the Mac or OS/2
posted by bonaldi at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2005



This thread made me wonder how much money MS has made in the past 10 years, considering the changes that have taken place in the OS market during this period.

Well, MS provides the spreadsheets going back to FY05. Can't all be related to Win95, but the numbers are interesting just the same.

Anyways, since 1985, MS has taken in $263, 887 billion dollars. Revenue, that is not profit.

I am personally not a huge fan of MS, but I give them credit for the amount $$ they put into research (roughly 11-22 % of revenue since 1985 varying by year) (see spreadsheets from link above.)

Anyone know of report that compares publically traded companies and the investment to research?
posted by fluffycreature at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2005


I totally don't understand the love in for DUN. Trumpet worked and was consistent. The version of DUN that shipped with Win .95 was frickin' horrible. And each subsequent version had a subtly different interface that make walking someone thru on the phone a nightmare.

Plutor writes "But building something into the OS makes it accessible to a the far bigger non-techie market."

You know Firefox, for example, is just as accessible and it isn't the steaming pile that IE is; all without being intergrated into the OS.
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2005


Why is the computer and software industry so singled out for replicating innovations? They all "take" from each other.

Renault developed the first overhead cam engine, now you see overhead cam engines from other manufacturers other than Renault. Where's the Honda copied Renault nonsense then?

I think that basically, it's platformism, and when platformism is eliminated, we'll all be more peacefully inclined when discussing our computers.

End platformism today!
posted by juiceCake at 10:25 AM on August 24, 2005


My version came with Weezer's "Buddy Holly". That was awesome.

Now this I remember, right after installing my awesome S3 graphics card and watching some shitty low-res video at fullscreen...it was wonderful.
posted by odinsdream at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2005


2K - never heard of it

Too bad... it's the best version they ever produced. XP without all the cruft.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2005


It's not "Father of the Internet", it's the "As We Know It" that's important. Prior to Windows 95, there were no web pages dedicated to copy/pasting animated GIFs and hosting a place to advertise your thriving collection of beanie babies. It was a simply line of demarkation: If you were one of those people, you wouldn't have been inclined to get on the web in the first place, as it was just too hard to manage without something pre-built into the OS.

Bullshit. The line of demarcation had nothing to do with Windows. It was when AOL folded a web browser into their client. That was April of '95. Most people in 1995 had no clue what an ISP was, and so Win95's tcp/ip stack and DUN meant nothing. The masses accessed the internet through proprietary online services. Even two years later, when the first mainstream internet fad occurred (the Dancing Baby), it propagated outwards from CompuServe.
posted by jbrjake at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2005


Where's the Honda copied Renault nonsense then?
It's right behind all the Honda owners saying "Honda invented the overhead cam!". Except nobody does that. With computer inventions, there's more of a flux, so fights over who did what are common.

And by "end platformism", are you advocating homogenity for computers? That's a recipe for a robust ecosystem.
posted by bonaldi at 10:33 AM on August 24, 2005


Mitheral: "You know Firefox, for example, is just as accessible and it isn't the steaming pile that IE is; all without being intergrated into the OS."

Just as accessible, eh? That must be why Firefox and Internet Explorer have roughly equivalent market share.

(Before you brand me an IE-lover, I'll point out that my name is in the Firefox credits.)
posted by Plutor at 10:37 AM on August 24, 2005


Doesn't anyone remember Newt ? At work we had Netmanage Chameleon for a TCPIP stack for Win3.1. PC-XWare was fun, too ! I used to run the DOS Telnet program that had its own built-in stack as well for those times when I didn't want to boot Windows. Loved those packet drivers.

Yes, Chameleon as well.

I showed someone how to network two machines using just Norton ghost a while back and at first they didn't believe it. How could they possibly communicate if windows wasn't running - on either machine?!?

bonaldi - heh, you are absolutely correct of course, the real genius of MS from day one has been in financial management and marketing - and yes, somehow I never connect the concept of naive 'end user' with anything but windows...

fluffycreature - I'm wondering what all the money is being spent on - really, since 95 what has been delivered to the end user of ms's products in terms of functionality to justify an entire decade's effort and billions(?) in research? You'd think they could have found the solution to world hunger, the secret to teleportation, and the cure for the common cold by now.

XP without all the cruft


yup, best MS ever produced, too bad they kept it a secret from the general public
posted by scheptech at 10:40 AM on August 24, 2005


I remember using it for the first time, with my hacker buddy, and he could not stop complaining about when copying files, the little animation of papers flying from one folder to another. "Ahhh!!! This is SUCH a waste of resources!!" he kept shouting. "It would copy much faster if it didn't have to display this stupid animation! Microsoft is soooo wasteful!!"
posted by afx114 at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2005


Does anyone remember that Hovertank game that came on or the '95 CD? It looked pretty cool but boring after a few minutes.
posted by octothorpe at 10:49 AM on August 24, 2005


The release of Windows 95 was the most important and exciting product upgrade since New Coke.
posted by nickmark at 10:58 AM on August 24, 2005


OMG, Al Gore is Windows 95!!

But let's look at the sentence odinsdream was complaining about here:

Once this technology was widely-available, it was only a matter of time until the Internet became a household word.

Arguably, this is not the case. So many people here complain about Trumpet Winsock, but the fact that it existed, and that so many people here complain about it, shows that at the time a lot of people used it. Windows may have improved upon it greatly, but it seems obvious that the Internet was well on its way to becoming a household word before Windows 95.

Need more proof? If Windows made the Internet a household word, then why didn't later versions make "push content" or "web channels" household words? Nah, 'twas the Internet that made the Internet popular. Microsoft played a role in removing one of the walls, but it would have crumbled eventually.
posted by JHarris at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2005


And by "end platformism", are you advocating homogenity for computers? That's a recipe for a robust ecosystem.

Homegeneity we are largely working toward in terms of data, which is fabulous, and of course to a large extent in hardware, which has it's benefits and drawbacks.

Ending platformism simply means getting rid of the my OS company or open source group did this first so there mentality. Mention Windows, we get a knee jerk but they didn't do it first reaction. So what? Industry is famous for copying each other and developing in tandem with a number of companies. Why is the software industry suddenly excempt from this? I find it a peculiar phenomen but it may be limited to a few loud voices actually.

I remember using it for the first time, with my hacker buddy, and he could not stop complaining about when copying files, the little animation of papers flying from one folder to another. "Ahhh!!! This is SUCH a waste of resources!!" he kept shouting. "It would copy much faster if it didn't have to display this stupid animation! Microsoft is soooo wasteful!!"

The Amiga did the same thing!

As for being widely available, I'm still largely convinced that hardware costs previous to 1995 and afterward are largely responsible for the success of Windows. Computers these days can be very much in the mainstream appliance arena. My sisters bought an iMac G5 not having the slightest idea that it was at all any different (other than the exterior features) than my Windows based PC for example. I told them to make sure that when they buy software it says it's Mac OS X compatible. That's all they need to know, or at least it should be. Neither of care that we don't use the same system or who did what first.

However, I recognize that what people care for can be highly subjective and it would be entirely untoward of me to suggest that my lack of caring is anything other than personal!
posted by juiceCake at 11:28 AM on August 24, 2005


I messed with and used MSN for a couple months back in, well, it had to have been 1996. I first got my hands on Windows 95 in February of that year and digested pretty much everything about it over the next few months. My math class grades suffered, but in the long run it was worth it. I ended up bouncing between a handful of ISPs in the first half of the year since I'd only used the Prodigy network (anyone remember that? ugh) up until that point. After a couple months of realizing that MSN content was mostly crap and was based on a ton of ActiveX controls and the amazing IE 2/IE 3, I ended up with a real local ISP.

Win 95 was actually one of the things that made me sit up and take notice, so I'll give it that. By mid 1997 I was using Linux, chatting on irc constantly, and obsessing over video cards to make Quake run faster. Good times.
posted by mikeh at 12:37 PM on August 24, 2005


Too bad... it's the best version they ever produced. XP without all the cruft.

Thirding. Best OS I've used yet.
posted by Ryvar at 1:03 PM on August 24, 2005


client OS. Sorry.
posted by Ryvar at 1:04 PM on August 24, 2005


Random factoids related to the subject:

The first version of windows with TCP/IP was windows for Workgroups.
The first version of internet explorer was shipped in Microsoft Plus Pack and was not included in the first retail release of Win95.
Windows 1.0 was designed before the Macintosh was released. GEM and X came out the same year Macintosh did. Apple did not invent the GUI they derived it from Xerox. Future releases of Windows had elements from all of these operating systems.
posted by Osmanthus at 1:22 PM on August 24, 2005


a: "cruft" is a shit-tastic word.

b: 2k is fine and all, but XP Pro is the best goddamned os I've ever used, bar-none, followed closely by 98se

I love my little mac mini, but OS X Tiger still feels a bit more like a toy than an os.
posted by stenseng at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2005


I swear I remember the BSOD in Win 3.1. Do I hallucinate?
posted by mwhybark at 1:43 PM on August 24, 2005


The blue screen for gpfault was in windows 3.0. While it is much decried, it is actually a huge techinical advance (protected mode) for DOS because the operating system was able to detect that something had crashed, and STOP it from trashing the harddrive.
posted by Osmanthus at 2:03 PM on August 24, 2005


Win XP has made my life a lot easier, because it is

A. Pretty, so people like it
B. Not amazingly secure, but definately more secure than 98se or... ME.
C. Is really the only choice if you're a gamer
D. Simple networking, very simple wireless setup
E. Good installation

I remember when 95 came out. I was probably about 10-11 years old when I went with my dad out to this place called incredible universe. All the CD versions were sold out, so we got the diskette version instead. He had me sit and pop in new disks when it asked to. That was a pretty good memory of the old man, I guess.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:08 PM on August 24, 2005


Windows 1.0 was designed before the Macintosh was released. GEM and X came out the same year Macintosh did. Apple did not invent the GUI they derived it from Xerox. Future releases of Windows had elements from all of these operating systems.

Apple Lisa, Jan 1983

Mac 128k, Jan 1984

X version 1, May 1984 (a predecessor called W apparently existed pre-1983)

Gem 1.1, March 1985 (8086 version)

Gem, June 1985 (Atari ST version)

Amiga 1000, 1985

Windows 1.0, November 1985

Just to put things in chronological perspective. The Lisa was apparently released before MSFT announced Windows. They may have been designing/prototyping it before that, though, so they could quite likely have been ripping off Xerox/PARC rather than Apple.

That's not to knock Windows' impact on the computer world, though; I bitch about it as much as anyone but I'm typing this on a WinXP machine. Every time you see an ATM or airport info screen throwing a Windows error, it's as much a testament to Windows' ubiquity as its semi-crappiness.
posted by arto at 2:09 PM on August 24, 2005


God, you guys need to get the sticks out of your asses. For the average consumer, Windows 95 was a huge upgrade. It was a huge contributer to the personal computing boom. Huge.

(And yeah. It did sorta suck.)
posted by graventy at 2:10 PM on August 24, 2005


I remember when I used my high school's trumpet winsock script to display their dialup password. Oh, those were the days.'

And yeah, 95 sucked, but 95 was a vast improvement on 3.1.
posted by angry modem at 3:07 PM on August 24, 2005


I have a dim recollection of the CN tower in Toronto being draped with absolutely huge "Start" banners in the run-up to Win95's release.

That was one hell of a promotion. Did they do that in other cities, too?
posted by generichuman at 4:40 PM on August 24, 2005


They bought the entire print run of the Times that day.
posted by bonaldi at 4:49 PM on August 24, 2005


Plutor writes "Just as accessible, eh? That must be why Firefox and Internet Explorer have roughly equivalent market share."

Well you can lead a fool to water but you can't make them drink.

Geez my father, with a whole three months of XP/pc experience was able to download, install and start using FF once I told him the URL.
posted by Mitheral at 5:10 PM on August 24, 2005


Win95 was such a regression from OS/2 Warp. We had a stable multitasking OS with a built-in TCP/IP stack and a nice interface back in 1994, and we let it slip through our fingers.

No, wait. I don't mean "we," I mean "you." I blame ALL OF YOU.
posted by Galvatron at 8:22 PM on August 24, 2005


As an OS 2 (2.1 and Warp) user at the time, I skipped the whole Windows 95 thing. Now THAT was an OS ... Too bad IBM couldn't sell water in the Sahara. I went right from that to NT, then 2K, then XP and 2003.

To all the folks complaining about the "cruft" in XP, I just don't see it. It's the best Windows client OS I've used. In my experience, everything works just slightly better than 2K.

2k is fine and all, but XP Pro is the best goddamned os I've ever used, bar-none, followed closely by 98se

I was right with you, until you included 98 SE. Yecch.

Win98 SP2 was finally Win95 "done right" (even though it was still pretty damned nasty.) 95 itself was just a dog's breakfast.

Neither one was fit for consumption by man or beast. Neither one was done right in any way, shape or form. They were stopgaps until MS could get a reliable OS with preemptive multitasking, protected memory, and access controls that was suitable for end-users and provided sufficient backward compatibility. NT had everything except the last two. Windows 95 and 98 got developers to switch to the Win32 API, and this paved the way for 2K and XP as client OSs.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:39 PM on August 24, 2005


No, wait. I don't mean "we," I mean "you." I blame ALL OF YOU.

Much as I sympathize, you're pointing the finger at the wrong people. It's IBM's fault that OS/2 failed. They intentionally chose not to support the Win32 API even though the market success that OS/2 had until that point was largely driven by Windows 3.1 compatibility, they didn't cultivate developers to develop for OS/2 PM, and they just assumed that their superior product would win in the marketplace all by itself.

Plus, the PM interface looked like it was drawn by a six-year-old. It was packed with nifty features, but it looked like a misshapen turd. The IPF documentation format suffered similarly compared to WinHelp.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:44 PM on August 24, 2005


Much as I sympathize, you're pointing the finger at the wrong people. It's IBM's fault that OS/2 failed.

Yeah, maybe. I guess I'd like to believe that the market should have been capable of choosing a clearly superior product, particularly at a time when the monopoly forces were not nearly as strong as they are now.

But yeah, IBM failed to bring third party developers on board. And those weird commercials with surfers and monks were fun to watch, but said absolutely nothing about the OS features.
posted by Galvatron at 9:13 PM on August 24, 2005


And now, thanks to this thread, "Start Me Up" by the Stones is now stuck in my head.

Smart bit of marketing, that.
posted by generichuman at 9:59 PM on August 24, 2005


I miss Windows 2.0. HAHAHA. No.

I miss CP/M. Wait, WTF? No, I don't. Mostly better than MS-DOS but pretty damn crufty compared to a nice sleek shell account somewhere.

I miss DesqView. Kinda.

I do miss OS/2, which was awesome but looked like boiled and hammered shit in a bag of rancid grease and had all the support of going commando in an ice bath. Ever since then I've almost entirely loathed IBM for being unmitigated, unrelenting fucktards. But some of those Thinkpads and some of the research and hardware developments they do are pretty sweet. But still, they fucked up so very badly with OS/2. "Hey, sweet OS. Wait, what?! Whattya mean I can't do jack diddly squat with it? There's no software?! Goddamnit!"

Win98SE? WHAT. THE. FUCK. ARE. YOU. SMOKING. MAN? WORST. OS. EVER.
posted by loquacious at 11:18 PM on August 24, 2005


Oh man.

I miss DesqView, too.
And OS/2? Man...

This is the most depressing bit of thread I've ever read.

I'm leaving now. [sniff]
posted by id at 1:57 AM on August 25, 2005


Anyone remember trumpet winsock?

God, yes. I yearn for the kind of thrill I got when I got it working and dialed in to Ozemail for the first time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:11 AM on August 25, 2005


Metafilter: All the support of going commando in an ice bath.
/still laughing
posted by Joeforking at 2:14 AM on August 25, 2005


One small thing, correct me if I'm mistaken, but ten years ago it fairly uncommon to have virus protection on every single Windows PC and such protection as there was was fairly superficial (and quick to execute). With Windows 95 came a whole host of less desirable innovations. Today's confusing patchwork of OS, Antivirus software, Spyware detectors, Personal firewalls and endless Security Patches is part of the less attractive legacy of Windows 95.
posted by grahamwell at 4:22 AM on August 25, 2005


Back then viruses were much worse actually. They were usually malicious and deleted all your files rather than just sending spam. There were plenty of them on DOS, they just tended to spread by floppies rather than the network.
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on August 25, 2005


I know this is going tangent, but I have to share.

In the early 90s, I was working for a small brown-box PC vendor in northwest New Jersey. We started getting things coming back to us with problems - viruses. We'd pull the hard drives out, hook them up in machines with bootable floppies, format the drive, put it back in, run the virus scanner... and it would be virused again.

We opened a fresh new straight from the factory MSDOS 4 package, and used it in a machine built from parts in the parts bank to reformat that hard drive. Then we scanned the hard drive, and no virus.

We put the hard drive in the machine that was brought in, started the virus scan, and... virus.

Dude. What. The fuck?

One of the other techs got the idea and we swapped out the BIOS. And the virus... didn't come back.

Somehow, we'd gotten BIOS chips with a virus in the BIOS. We never bought from that vendor again.
posted by mephron at 8:41 AM on August 25, 2005


This rose-colored-glasses nostalgia for Win95 makes me nauseous. Win95 SUCKED. It just sucked a lot less than Win3.1. Saying "it got Windows right" is like saying the school bully finally started kicking you in the ass instead of the balls. Microsoft's greatest success has been in convinving people that they should accept sub-par products as "good".
posted by mkultra at 8:48 AM on August 25, 2005


generichuman writes "And now, thanks to this thread, 'Start Me Up' by the Stones is now stuck in my head."

Interestingly that theme was MS's second choice. They originally wanted "It's the end of the World as we know it" by R.E.M.
posted by Mitheral at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2005


yup. i was on the windows 95 team.
posted by muppetboy at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2005


Microsoft's greatest success has been in convincing people that they should accept sub-par products as "good".

Oh, come on. This is silly. 99.99% of the general public couldn't type their name on a computer before Win95. Now we have A Team slash fiction. What better world could you have asked for in 1995?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:00 AM on August 25, 2005


One small thing, correct me if I'm mistaken, but ten years ago it fairly uncommon to have virus protection on every single Windows PC and such protection as there was was fairly superficial (and quick to execute). With Windows 95 came a whole host of less desirable innovations. Today's confusing patchwork of OS, Antivirus software, Spyware detectors, Personal firewalls and endless Security Patches is part of the less attractive legacy of Windows 95

Ten years ago it was fairly uncommon to have machines on a public network. Offices had local area networks, and that was about it. If your computer got a virus, it was because Bob from Accounting brought in an infected floppy disk from home and accidentally rebooted his machine with the disk in the drive.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:19 PM on August 25, 2005


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