It was 20 years ago today that Microsoft launched Windows 95, starting a revolution in personal computing that shaped the industry.
Although by no means the first version of the graphical user interface, Windows 95 started a cultural revolution and introduced a number of features, like the taskbar, that are still in use today – in fact, the Start menu that first debuted in Windows 95 has just been re-introduced in Windows 10 due to popular demand.
The earlier versions of Windows added a graphical user interface to DOS, but didn’t include the ease of use that was introduced in Windows 95 – in fact, it was only with Windows 3.1 in 1990 that Windows became commercially successful.
The launch of Windows NT for servers and workstations in 1993 helped to drive Windows into the corporate market, but Windows 95 was the start of the operating systems popularity for end users.
The Windows 95 launch was a global event, with parties held simultaneously around the world. In South Africa, Microsoft hired a party bus to drive around Johannesburg with staff, media and partners.
Enthusiasts queued to buy their copies of the operating system, which brought a graphical user interface to the widest range of hardware and allowed more users than ever before to start broadening their computing horizons.
Windows 95 was closely followed by the launch of Internet Explorer, which become many individuals’ first
experience with the World Wide Web.
The launch on Windows 95 helped Microsoft to become the world’s biggest company in 1998.
In 1998, Microsoft launched Windows 98 bundled with Internet Explorer. It was followed in 2000 by Windows 2000 and Windows. In 2001, Windows XP made its debut, followed by the unpopular Windows Vista in 2007, then Windows 7 in 2009 and Windows 8 in 2012. Windows 10 was launched just a few weeks ago and includes a new browser, Edge.