Twenty-Three Years of Wacky Windows Launches

Later today in New York City, Microsoft will be hosting its Windows 7 launch event. I won't be there, but I have a good excuse: I decided to stay home in San Francisco and go to the last day of the Web 2.0 Summit to see Tim Berners-Lee speak. I hope everyone who makes the trek has a good time, but I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that nothing transpires that leaves me kicking myself for not attending. (Microsoft plans to stream the event live starting at 11am EDT, so those of us who aren't there can check in on the festivities.)

In lieu of being at the 7 launch, I've been revisiting old clips relating to Windows launches past. Join me, won't you?

Windows 1.0

This supposedly dates from 1986 and therefore may not technically date from the launch of Windows 1.0, which shipped in 1985. But no retrospective of Windows-related stuff would be complete without it.

Windows 3.0

A clip from the Windows 3.0 coverage by Stewart Chefeit's public-TV series The Computer Chronicles. Eerily foreshadows Windows 7 with its description of Windows 3.0 as a reaction to Windows 2.0's lukewarm reception, its touting of 3D elements in the user interface, and the coverage of the general enthusiasm for the product.

Windows 3.1 (?)

From Japan, something indescribable-I choose to believe this is real and not somebody's art project.

Windows 95

More Computer Chronicles: Jay Leno doing Windows 95/Clinton schtick, a little girl who's an amazing forerunner of Kylie, and more.

Bill Gates, Windows then-honcho Brad Silverberg, and a truly gigantic Windows 95 box.

Windows XP

I shot this myself at the Windows XP launch in New York City, which took place six weeks after 9/11/2001. It was therefore a rather somber affair-the most memorable moment by far was an unannounced walk-on by Rudy Giuliani-but the only part I captured on video was Regis Philbin's wacky XP Webcam demo, which didn't work (surprise!) and ended with his sincere but confused endorsement of the new OS.

Wow, a remake! Steve Ballmer returns to Billy Mays mode, along with the equally boisterous Microsoft exec Brian Valentine, to pitch XP in what's presumably an internal corporate video.

Windows Vista

Japanese geeks line up at midnight for Windows Vista. Wonder how they felt after they got home and installed it?

Windows 7

Finally, the already-legendary Windows 7 Launch Party video-I still can't tell if its hokeyness is utterly sincere or a brilliant put-on. I just know it's mesmerizing.

What'll happen at today's launch? Kylie will reportedly be there; so, presumably, will Steve Ballmer. I expect at least one surprise celebrity (not counting any Microsoft cofounders who show up), and give 50/50 odds that something will go wrong in an amusing way. I also suspect that humor will be had at Apple's expense. If you watch the stream, let us know what you think...

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