I was one of the launch analysts for Windows 95, and the launch of that product has been widely held – including Bill Gates – as the company’s pinnacle. There were no launches before or after that launch, and I’m surprised that no one, including Apple or Microsoft, has actually attempted to duplicate that effort.
Windows 10 has the potential to be higher than Windows 95 – but Potential will not make a great product alone. This will reduce implementation not only on the product, but also on launching.
I will close with my product of the week: Microsoft HoloLens, which has the ability to take a big step forward in what we call singularity.
Remember windows 95
The Windows 95 launch is very close to heart for me, as Bill Gates and Windows 95 set me up as an analyst. Windows 95 is how I found out about Don Clarke in the Wall Street Journal, and that was not a good thing, initially – it almost cost my job.
When IBM told me that I would be unemployed, and Ravi, SGI and Novell all lined up with only one thing on their plate – fired me. That was the year Bill Gates stepped in personally twice – once to save my job, and second to my reputation. The Windows 95 launch year is one I will never forget.
The ramp for the launch was awesome. At one point, I was doing TV interviews almost daily on the product, and the excitement leading up to launch day was much bigger than I had ever seen. I was in a really stupid video where they asked if the product would change my sex life, and I’m exceptionally grateful that Bill Gates killed it.
The projection itself was magical – the clouds in the sky also matched the box. With tents spread across the Microsoft campus, it felt more like a revival meeting than a product launch. (I should point out that Steve Jobs felt the same way regularly but never on this large scale).
On my return flight, a woman in front of me on the plane stairs forced me to step sideways, causing me to sprained my ankle so badly that I could not walk. That support became a precursor to the disaster that probably prevented Microsoft from making the same mistake again.
You see, after the launch, almost everyone who could decide went on vacation, and to keep the support lines short, the woman leading the support gave the busy signers. Millions of people became unstable overnight, but it was not the fault of the product or launch team (except perhaps part of the holiday).
However, Windows 95 was the last time I saw Microsoft as a company to bring out a product, not a partition that had been marketed from the beginning. The company was customer focused back then, and user needs were a primary driver. And Brad Chase and Brad Silverberg were running the show under the legendary Bill Gates. It was a wonderful time. Who knew it would go down from there?
During my visit with Microsoft last week, I was reminded of Windows 95 with a big focus on explaining a number of important things: that marketing was being built on the process front rather than the process again; The user was again front and center for requirements; And people were again asking questions like “Why,” such as “Why are we doing this?” – As opposed to focusing on creative methods to explain what we are doing.
You see, in companies full of engineers, products become more science projects than things for real people. Folks do things because they can – because they want to see what will happen or simply because they want to show they have rights, no matter how silly they are.
So fast, you get products that suck. During the 2000s, such was the case at Microsoft. (We can do the same for most products manufactured by Google rather than products purchased during that decade.)
Satya Nadella’s Microsoft is a very different company, however. People are working together again, engineers can no longer play the “biggest mis * take” game and the product seems amazing as a result.
The user interface is an improvement on Windows 7, not separate. When the user moves or not, it moves between tablet and PC modes, not based on whether the office is in use or not, and understands that users do stupid things and have their backs.
For example, if you get a new PC with McAfee and allow you to unsubscribe, instead of being insecure, Windows Defender will automatically cover your butt.
The Xbox (which I have long believed was one of the dumbest things Microsoft has ever done, as it dropped its flagship Windows offer from gaming and initially put it on a mass-sold product ) Is now part of Windows. Instead of competition, it enhances the experience.