25 years ago: Windows 95

I never understood how Microsoft became so successful. I mean, I get how their licensing business model was genius and that preinstalling their OS on every PC soon made it ubiquitous.

What was harder to comprehend was how so many people in offices all over the world ever got anything done on those trashy machines filled with bloated, buggy, and butt-ugly software.

At some point, during my years working for various ad agencies in different roles, I had to work on Windows PCs to ensure that the multimedia projects I was working on were cross-platform. It was an interesting but not a very creatively fulfilling process.

As Steve Jobs once said, Microsoft doesn’t have to lose in order for Apple to win. Today, “the fruit company” is thriving and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is thankfully using a big chunk of the fortune he made from Windows 95 (and later iterations of it) for charitable projects all over the world.

Sadly, sometimes, standardization has nothing to do with whether or not a product or service is best-in-class. A Windows-based PC has and never will be as easy to use as a Mac. The gap isn’t as wide as it once was, but there’s still a level of clunkiness to a PC that will likely never go away. And I still think Microsoft makes an aesthetically repugnant, unintuitive operating system that distracts from my creative process. Just look at the above commercial (which was likely created on a Mac…).

So, no, I don’t think there’s any reason to celebrate the launch of Window’s 95 some 25 years ago. Especially since much of Microsoft’s then-new operating system’s interface was blatantly ripped off from Apple’s macOS. Then again, Steve Jobs “stole” much of Mac’s interface from Xerox when he visited Parc, one of the photocopier company’s research labs.

I haven’t counted all the Apple computers I’ve owned over the years. Could be about 20 by now. I’m writing this on a relatively new Macbook Pro 16″ and I plan to upgrade my iMac later in the year. Back in 1998, when I bought my very first workstation, a top-of-the-line Apple Macintosh 8600, I felt a little worried that the then-struggling Apple might go actually go bankrupt. Around this time, Microsoft made a substantial investment in the company which sent a message, a vote of confidence that seemed to resonate well with Apple consumers like me. Today, Apple is among the most profitable companies in the world. So I no longer hesitate about buying into their walled-garden ecosystem. And their computers and the operating system still enables me to pursue my creative ambitions. Which is fundamentally why I continue working on them. Macs are enabling. Facilitators. Tools.