Windows 95 Turns 25: When Windows Went Mainstream

Windows 95 Turns 25: When Windows Went Mainstream

Here we can see, “Windows 95 Turns 25: When Windows Went Mainstream”

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95. This innovative and highly successful PC OS weaned people that used PCs off of command lines. It also made Microsoft a household name. Here’s why Windows 95 was so special.

All Windows, All the Time

One of the foremost notable features of Windows 95 was that it tried to steer users completely far away from a prompt for the primary time. Unlike Windows 3.11, Windows 95 booted straight into a graphical interface, despite the very fact that it had an enhanced MS-DOS kernel running under the hood.

Before Windows 95, PC owners had to shop for MS-DOS and Windows separately, then install one on top of the opposite. By default, most people still booted into MS-DOS, then ran Windows whenever they needed it.

Windows 95, though, wrapped both the Windows shell and MS-DOS into one product and called it an entire OS.

The greatest advantage of an MS-DOS lineage was Windows 95 was widely backward-compatible with thousands of programs written for MS-DOS and Windows 3. x out of the box. This made it a reasonably painless upgrade for many people.

On the downside, being supported MS-DOS made Windows 95 susceptible to frustrating crashes (largely thanks to memory management conflicts), especially in comparison to something like Microsoft’s Windows NT.

Five years later, the Windows NT line only began to bridge the professional/consumer divide with Windows 2000. It didn’t fully replace the DOS-based Windows 9x series until Windows XP launched in 2001.

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The Birth of the Start Menu and Taskbar

Suppose you’ve used Windows within the last 25 years. Although, in that case, you’re conversant in the long-lasting Start menu and taskbar, both of which originated in Windows 95. the beginning menu served as a concise and logical replacement for the Program Manager in Windows 3.x to arrange and launch installed applications.

Microsoft featured the beginning button prominently in much of its advertising and touted it as an easy way for anyone to “start” using their Windows PC.

The Start menu also gave rise to some comic confusion, as shown during this August 1995 ny Times review, which lamented, “Where is that the pack up option? On the beginning button, of course!”

The Windows 95 taskbar stretched across the rock bottom of the screen (as it does now), providing a compact but sophisticated thanks to managing tasks across multiple application windows. Windows 3.x had no such functionality, nor did the Macintosh at the time.

It might be argued that it had been the beginning button and taskbar that allowed Windows 95 to surpass Mac OS in functionality for the primary time. That was an enormous deal in 1995, as Apple fans had long derided Microsoft as playing catch-up with Macintosh. Unfortunately, Mac OS didn’t get an activated-by-default launcher or task manager until the OS X Beta in 2000.

The Origin of Windows Explorer (and More)

Windows 95 marked the primary appearance of Windows Explorer (now called “File Explorer”), a file manager and OS shell rolled into one. Unlike Windows 3.x, which split file and application management into two different programs, Explorer united them (similar to Finder before it). It handled windows filled with icons representing both files and applications and the beginning menu and taskbar.

Other Windows 95 software innovations included:

  • A right-click context menu for direct file operations.
  • A desktop area that would store files is a folder.
  • File shortcuts.
  • The Recycle Bin.
  • Device Manager
  • “My Computer” on the desktop.
  • A system-wide “Find” utility.
  • Native 32-bit application support (via the Win32 API).
  • Support for the new DirectX API, which allowed full-screen Windows gaming.

Windows 95 was an enormous release designed to wean people by counting on MS-DOS to urge things done. Those new features made that possible for the primary time (on a Microsoft product, at least).


FreeCell first appeared as an indication program for the Win32 API (Windows 3.x machines). However, it shipped with Windows 95 and shortly became a sensation on par with Windows Solitaire and Minesweeper before it (both included with Windows 95).

Its depth and complexity kept players hooked for over a decade as they attempted to unravel all of its 32,000 possible games.

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The Internet on the Desktop

In its first retail release, Windows 95 didn’t include an internet browser. Instead, people saw an icon for an online replacement service called The Microsoft Network (MSN) on the desktop. Microsoft conceived MSN as a competitor for CompuServe and Prodigy.

However, even before the launch of MSN, Gates recognized the inevitability of the planet Wide Web’s dominance. As a result, MSN soon shifted to become more of an online Service Provider (ISP).

Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer, started as an optional add-on for Windows 95. By December 1995, however, new versions of Windows 95 (beginning with OEM Service Release 1) included Internet Explorer by default.

People accessed the browser via a desktop icon called “The Internet.” Competing browser developers, like Netscape, found this to be a monopolistic overreach by Microsoft. The inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows 95 led to the massive U.S. versus Microsoft legal action in 1998.

After an initial judgment that involved Microsoft being choppy, Microsoft prevailed in an appeal and walked away with a clap on the wrist. And Internet Explorer continued to be included with future versions of Windows.

New Heights in Marketing

To launch Windows 95, Microsoft unrolled a $300 million promotional campaign, which was cited at the time as, perhaps, the foremost expensive in American history. It had been an unprecedented high-profile campaign for a software package. It had also been complemented by friendly, blue-sky artwork and a catchy name that appeared to set Windows 95 aside from other, more sterile software releases.

The firm advertised everywhere: newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and billboards. It also licensed “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones for $3 million to use during a high-profile series of TV commercials.

On August 24, 1995, Microsoft held an enormous press launch event in Redmond, Washington, hosted by Jay Leno. It had been reportedly broadcast live by satellite to smaller Microsoft events around the globe.

The effect was impressive. Windows 95 got tons of attention and brought Microsoft into the cultural mainstream as a logo of business success. the corporate sold 1 million copies of Windows 95 during its first week on the market and 40 million in its first year. So windows 95 was a real success.

User Questions:

  1. Can you get Windows 95?

Even after 25 years, you still install the Windows 95 OS on your Windows 10 computer. As we’ve written about it within the past, you’ll download the Windows 95 OS within the sort of an app; additionally, to Windows, it also can run on Linux and macOS.

2.Is Windows 98 or 95 better?

Windows 98 may be a definite improvement on Windows 95, so if you’re fixing a replacement computer – and if you do not have the resources to place in and run Windows NT – you’ll be wanting to put Windows 98 instead of Windows 95 thereon. In addition, you will find Windows 98 easier to put in and more stable than Windows 95.

3.Will Windows 95 games work on XP?

Modern 64-bit versions of Windows don’t support applications designed for older 16-bit versions like Windows 95/98. Older versions of Windows ran on top of DOS, but that hasn’t been the case since Windows XP. … These tricks should assist you in running many retro games designed for aging OSes, from DOS to Windows XP.

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