The Windows Roller Coaster: 10 Years of Highs and Lows

Opinion: For sheer, gut-wrenching highs and lows, even the world's tallest, fastest, most technologically advanced fly-by-wire roller coaster can't compare with the last 10 years of highs and lows with Windows.

Step aside, Six Flags. Move over, Magic Mountain.

For sheer, gut-wrenching highs and lows, even the worlds tallest, fastest, most technologically advanced fly-by-wire roller coaster cant compare with the last 10 years of highs and lows at Microsoft.

Whether youre a shareholder, an employee, a customer or a competitor, youve experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of BSODs.

In the year and a half leading up to the debut of Windows 95, I wrote more than 100,000 words about the upcoming operating system, mostly for the late, lamented PC Computing.

I was at the launch party on Aug. 24, 1995, and Ive been covering succeeding versions of Windows (and the controversies surrounding them) continuously since then. Its been quite a ride.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead David Courseys commentary here on the last 10 years of Internet Explorer.

1995

Aug. 24 kicks off an unprecedented celebration of Windows 95. Crowds line up at computer stores at midnight to buy copies of the software, and a million copies are sold in the first four days.

Jay Leno hosts the extravagant launch party under picture-perfect Redmond summer skies. Microsoft buys the rights to the Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" as its theme song. Its a high of giddy, dance-on-the-tables proportions.

In fact, maybe the hype is a little too much. Microsoft Vice President Brad Silverberg, whos in charge of the development effort, has to damp down expectations repeatedly, saying "Its only software. It doesnt cure cancer."

Next Page: Antitrust lawsuits rear their heads.