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Bill Gates: Windows 95 Was 'A High Point' 769

Posted by samzenpus
from the almost-as-good-as-3.1 dept.
BobJacobsen writes "CBSnews.com has an article about Bill Gates and Steve Balmer answering questions at the 'All Things Digital' conference. When asked about 'high points' in his time at Microsoft, Gates replied 'Windows 95 was a nice milestone.' The article continues 'He also spoke highly of Microsoft SharePoint Server software, but didn't mention Vista.' Was there really nothing else that Gates considered a high point?"
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Bill Gates: Windows 95 Was 'A High Point'

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:22PM (#23579257) Homepage Journal
    Seriously tho' - take a look [cbsnews.com] at the photo of Bill & Steve answering questions - have you ever seen such defensive body language? I almost felt sorry for them - but then I remembered they were responsible for Windows 95.
    • by Odder (1288958) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:29PM (#23579349)

      Ballmer tried to counter Vista's reputation as a mistake and failure. CBS did not miss this.


      Both Gates and Ballmer were asked about the success, or lack thereof, of Windows Vista, with Walt Mossberg asking if Vista was a failure or a mistake.

      "It's not a failure and not a mistake," responded Ballmer. "With 20/20 hindsight, there are things we would do differently." Ballmer said Vista has sold 150 million units so far, but he did say that business customers will be able to request a "downgrade" to Windows XP after the company stops selling XP in June - obviously a response to the fact that many customers prefer XP to Vista.

      The Register has an article [theregister.co.uk] that focuses on this and what it means.

      I agree with Gates, Win95 was as good as Windows got. No, I'm not Bill Gate's sockpupet. Their vision of a unified desktop and web browser has been better implemented by KDE since. XP's copy protection and Vista's digital restrictions were tremendous mistakes. The seeds of M$'s demise were expressed early on [blinkenlights.com].

      Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software.

      Free software has done all of these things better than non free software.

      • by dedazo (737510) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:05PM (#23579737) Journal

        Free software has done all of these things better than non free software.

        I'm not going to go into the rest of your fabrications, infantile creative spelling and links to - wait for it - El Reg that you think somehow validate your opinion, but even if they're being deliberately obtuse about the above, there's a good point to be made about your claim.

        In the beginning, FLOSS was nothing more than a hobbyist movement. It continued to be that for a long time, until corporations like IBM got into the game, and for-profit corporations like RedHat and MySQL AB and others were created around what used to be loosely related FLOSS projects.

        This involvement has allowed the end to end quality of FLOSS to skyrocket in the past few years, in the sense that it went from "here's a tarball, run make install on it, perform the specified incantations, pray to Chtuhlu and you're all set" to actually mainstream, usable tools. It's that involvement that not only has employed people who otherwise would be hobby developers as well-paid professionals, but has created an entire ecosystem in which these efforts can be carried out by more and more people.

        That doesn't mean that your usual "FLOSS uber alles" claim is valid in any sense, because "non free" (what the hell is that, BTW. As in "non tasty"?) software has also improved and evolved enormously in the past three decades. Some of that has come from "M$", and some hasn't. There's a lot of extremely good commercial software out there about which you have been evidently living in complete ignorance of for about as long as the same three decades I mentioned.

        This is maybe similar to the mason guilds of the middle ages, who improved their collective lot by organizing themselves into sponsored groups working on well-defined and focused projects, which in turn served to lay the ground rules for formalized architecture and civil engineering.

        No, I'm not Bill Gate's sockpupet.

        twitter, that would be funny if it wasn't so damn dishonest. How many accounts are we at now? 12? Maybe your nemesis [slashdot.org] can jump in here and give us the full list again, and then you can insult him as usual.

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:22PM (#23579901)

          There's a lot of extremely good commercial software out there about which you have been evidently living in complete ignorance of for about as long as the same three decades I mentioned.


          Honestly, most commercial software just plain sucks. Not from a "I can't copy this or modify the source" way but the fact that it breaks, has outdated documentation, gives cryptic error messages. For example, the other day I was using some software that is critical for the business that I was at. It was a Windows program and worked fine for about 2-3 years and then it just suddenly stopped working. So I pull out the documentation (now granted the company bought this software about 2-3 years ago) it was in a spiral book and the first steps were of installing it... in DOS!!! Now the system that this was installed was a low-end XP notebook, and so none of the documentation was even remotely relevant (they did tell you how to use it in Windows but it seemed like an afterthought and it only covered Windows 95!) and this was the only software for the job (it was to enter in data for a remote system to control access). So I tried to reinstall it, didn't work. So I thought about uninstalling it and reinstalling it until I realized that the database (which you couldn't export without the program working) backups were made in 2006!!! So in the end I was left with cryptic error messages, a program that would install but still have the same problem, and the company that sold us the software changed hands so many times that Im not even sure what it is called anymore.

          About the only commercial software I would call "good" would be some proprietary games. The rest either suffer from not enough documentation, cryptic error messages, lack of company support, a program that can easily be replaced with a F/OSS solution or a horrible UI.
          • I'd second that (Score:4, Insightful)

            by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:15PM (#23581083) Homepage

            Honestly, most commercial software just plain sucks.

            There are a few really polished pieces of software out there, but the vast majority of commercial software sucks ass. At least if I find out open source software sucks I'm not out any money. There isn't any truism that works in the software industry, whether commercial or OSS. I've seen good and bad commercial software, good and bad OSS. But if you think commercial is better simply because it costs more, you're deluded. I use GIMP, OpenOffice, Blender...work fine for me. I also use Photoshop, Audition, and Vegas.

            Software isn't a religion any more than tools are a religion. Use what's appropriate for the job.

        • past few years? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mkcmkc (197982) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @01:02AM (#23581861)

          This involvement has allowed the end to end quality of FLOSS to skyrocket in the past few years
          I'm not sure what you mean by end to end here. Obviously FLOSS has moved into different domains at different times--some areas decades ago, while other areas may never see FLOSS.

          One pattern does seem clear: once FLOSS gets a start in an area, it appears to attain supremacy within about five to ten years. And once FLOSS takes a niche, proprietary software never takes it back.

          There will probably always be proprietary software, but days of Microsoft's primary niches are numbered.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:30PM (#23580011) Homepage
        I'd like to see you switch from Windows XP to Windows 95... you'd be begging to go back after a couple of hours.

      • by MsGeek (162936) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:42PM (#23580139) Homepage Journal
        Windows 2000 took the NT codebase and made it way friendlier, which was far easier than taking the "DOS in Windows" codebase (95/98/ME) and making it stable. Yeah, I know that ME came after 2K, sue me, but it basically was the same deal. It was downhill after 2K, as it was irresistible to Microsoft not to encrust the next operating system with more useless eye-candy and cruft.
      • by Rary (566291) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @10:30PM (#23580569)

        I agree with Gates, Win95 was as good as Windows got.

        Actually, he didn't say that Windows 95 was as good as Windows got. He said that Windows 95 was a nice milestone.

        Windows 95 literally changed the world of personal computing. It was revolutionary in a way that little else in the world of software has ever been. Few companies get the opportunity to produce even one product that has the kind of impact that Windows 95 had, yet people point to the fact that Microsoft hasn't had another like it as an indication of failure.

        Microsoft has not put out another product that did to the computing world what Windows 95 did, and Bill knows that. But it doesn't mean that he thinks subsequent Windows versions were crap. In fact, I'm betting he doesn't use Windows 95 on his home PC.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:31PM (#23579357)
      Bill didn't mention getting his picture taken in Albuquerque? http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34454506.jpg [latimes.com]
  • by The Ancients (626689) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:25PM (#23579297) Homepage

    Bill Gates: Windows 95 Was 'A High Point'

    They were high when they developed it?

    That would explain Windows ME.

  • 2k? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunami (751539) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:28PM (#23579335)
    How about Windows 2000? I still use it and have no real issues with it, unlike when I've used XP.
  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:31PM (#23579355) Homepage Journal
    The time that Windows 95 came out was probably the transition from him being somewhat known outside of the computer industry, to being really well known (It was the time during which he bacame richest person). So he probably felt that he had a lot more baggage to carry after that and perhaps it wasn't as fun.
  • Not a fan boi... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lordsid (629982) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:31PM (#23579361)
    I am not a fan boi (IANAFB), but I would say Windows 2000 is Microsoft's best operating system. I know there are those who would disagree, but the reason I say this is:

    -Win2k was an improved no non-sense version of WinNT 4.0
    -No special "genuine" advantage program
    -No DRM
    -It has all the features of XP, but none of the "rest power from the user" sludge

    but alas I no longer use Microsofts products. I now work in place that has all macs (not a fan boi there either) and recently converted my household to Ubuntu with no side effects.

    A favorite quote of mine that I don't know the author of:
    "It was easier for Apple to make Linux user friendly than it was for them to fix Windows"
  • by foxtrot (14140) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:32PM (#23579367)
    But if I were being absolutely honest, I'd probably say that XP was a high point--possibly the high point for Microsoft. In many ways, it doesn't suck quite as much as its predecessors. A lot of people and a lot of companies like it.

    Bill Gates can't say that, though, because Vista's biggest competitor right now is Windows XP...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nossie (753694)
      I agree....

      XP SP1 or SP2 was a good solid OS

      Actually so was Win 98SE

      Just proves MS cant do anything right first time
  • by Trenchbroom (1080559) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:33PM (#23579387)
    As much as it pains me to admit it, Windows 95 was a big moment in PC history. The death (slowly) of DOS, plug and play, functional networking, Direct X, gateway to 32-bit computing--all were huge at the time. Yes, OS/2 was as good or better, yes, Mac OS was still better in 1995, and yes, BeOS was soon to show everyone up. But for the needs of the many (and the needs of a world who would soon crave the Internet and 3D gaming) Windows 95 was huge: warts, blue screens and all.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:49PM (#23579569) Journal
      Yes, and it represents Microsoft at its high point. All the world (figuratively speaking) was happy to get windows 95, it was such a clear advance over windows 3.11. It was a job (relatively) well done. Investors were happy. Customers were happy. It was the product that would push them into the clear winner position in the PC market (and by PC in this case I include Mac, since they drastically lost market share afterwards).

      Then anti-trust investigations started up. Windows 98 was an incremental update that had to be dumped for windows NT. Security issues started to matter. This open source stuff became a threat. Now everyone is trying to knock them off the mountain. And may very well succeed.
      • by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:03PM (#23579727)

        I include Mac, since they drastically lost market share afterwards
        Simply not true. Macs 'enjoyed' roughly the same market share (around 5%) from the early 90s all the way until their recent increases (no doubt due to the same reasons they never were mainstream in the 90s...Intel architecture).
  • by Alonzo Meatman (1051308) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:34PM (#23579395)
    Anybody who doubts the veracity of this claim obviously isn't old enough to remember Windows 3.1.
  • by sayfawa (1099071) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:35PM (#23579407)
    Well, I don't feel like deciphering the exact context of the assertion (by reading TFA of course), but in a way, yeah, 95 was a high point. I remember all the excitement people had when 95 was about to come out. Long lines, news reporters hyping it up. When, since then, has a new Windows release generated so much genuine excitement? They were rock stars back then.

    Now a Windows release is greeted with a 'thanks, but no thanks'. Yeah, I'd look back with longing at '95 too if I were them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:35PM (#23579423)
    Windows 95 was freaking advanced. Sure, yes, not compared to the awesome *nix but in the Windows world it was a HUGE step forward. It also laid the groundwork of the awesome delivery of XP.

    Windows 2000 was an overly of 98 on NT. I loved it.

    XP was simply an updated version of Windows 2000 with a greater hardware support.

    Vista is a mess, but it's getting better. I'm not happy with Vista nor do I recommend it.

    The next version of Windows will be a big turning point. I would like to see Microsoft cut some of the 'cords' of the old OS and backward compaitibility.

    In reality, they can push the Windows API into a new direction. Have TWO versions of Windows.

    Windows World - Windows with all the compatible stuff to make it run yesteryear software.
    Windows Beyond - Windows, smaller, faster, lighter with NO legacy support.

    There you go. Much like an SUV and a sports car. Both nice and can easily merge into the market as needed.

    D~y
  • by kungfoolery (1022787) <kaiyoung.pak@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:38PM (#23579451)

    ...ya gotta admit, Windows95 was a huge improvemnt. WFW was really nothing more than a crappy shell plastered on top of a not so great OS. With Win95, it seems MS really came up with something much more modern and different (please note, I'm comparing Windows to earlier iterations of itself, not Mac, Unix, or anything else). It finally implemented a TCP/IP stack, Explorer (for better or worse), 32-bit filesystem, and a workable interface. The stupid start button was still eons behind what Apple had (and still has), but it was a huge leap from WFW.

  • by friskyfeline (1053432) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:39PM (#23579463)
    I always remember Windows NT4 transitioning into Windows 2K. This was the first time I felt like a version of Windows actually worked. I only had to reinstall it once a year to clean up the crud. It most of the time shut down when I asked it to. It for the most part let me run my programs without blue screening. I think others would agree with me it was a high point Windows 2K. I would also bet a lot of people are still using it over XP.
  • win 95 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:41PM (#23579479) Homepage Journal
    while windows 95 was freaken terrible, it did introduce the windows interface that is still in use today (start button, taskbar, desktop) the interface in vista might be shinier, but the functionality is still about the same.

    While everything up to 3.11 was just a fancy shell for DOS, windows 95 was (almost) a real OS. (mainly because you didn't have to type 'win' in a DOS prompt after start-up, it loaded on its own, like magic)

    While 2000 and XP were huge steps forward, from a general users perspective, they weren't much different than 95. the start menu is in the same place, the taskbar is the same. the clock and system fonts are all the same.

    as far as visuals and GUI design are concerned, win95 was a highpoint, and they haven't really moved beyond that.
    as far as stability is concerend, windows 2000 was the highpoint. when one program crashed, the rest of my system didn't crash with it! amazing!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoobixCube (1133473)
      Yeah. Huge innovation in GUI design. Apple had a bar at the top for years, and a trash can. Microsoft put a bar at the bottom, and a recycle bin. I'll be modded down for this, I know, but to me, Windows 95 marked the beginning (or maybe a little later than the beginning) of a long tradition of copying Mac OS. Poorly.
      • Re:win 95 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @11:09PM (#23581025)
        And MacOS and Windows 2.0 copied the windowing idea off of Xerox's Parc. What's your point?

        Until OSX, I found elements of MacOS to be clunky, annoying, and counter-intuitive. For example, trashing a disk (or disc) to eject it? I want to eject my disk, not erase its contents. What, the little apple icon at the corner is actually click-able and is important? What would make a novice user realize this? At least Windows had a raised motif over the start button, and the actual words "Start" on it to tell you to start there.

        Windows 95's interface was much easier to use for multitasking. Alt-tab not withstanding, the taskbar that summarizes all of your open programs so that you can just click to go to that particular program.

        Let's talk starting up programs. 95 had a programs list to quickly get to all the installed applications. MacOS, not so much. In 98, the quick launch toolbar made it just a click of a button to start up commonly-used programs. By your reasoning, OSX's dashboard is just a copy of the taskbar and quicklaunch combination.

        And, you could navigate to every UI element with the keyboard alone.

        My point isn't to be inflammatory. My point is that it is ridiculous to claim that just because certain UI elements were taken from MacOS, that the MacOS actually deserves any of the credit for the user experience in Windows. And to base the claim that the Windows GUI wasn't innovative only on the elements that were copied, and ignore all the other major improvements and advances in UI design is extremely shortsighted.
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:42PM (#23579489)
    Has Bill already forgotten about the Softcard [apple2info.net]. That was a pretty good product from when Microsoft was in their prime.
  • What about NT4.0? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aslan72 (647654) <psjuvinNO@SPAMilstu.edu> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:43PM (#23579497)
    I honestly thought NT 4.0 was a great OS; it was the paradigm shifter that brought down OS/2 and really lasted for a while.
  • by Sparky9292 (320114) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:44PM (#23579503)
    I'd figure the major high point would be Bill Gates buying Tim Patterson's 86-DOS for $50,000 and selling it to IBM and the clones for bazillions.
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#23579515)
    Before Win95, Apple has a small but real Market, IBM made noise with OS/2, someone was pushing GEOS (came with my multimedia upgrade kit at some point), and most computers booted to DOS and ran Wordperfect 5.1/DOS and or LOTUS 1-2-3 and connected to the Netware box. Even if most OEMs shipped with Windows 3.11, computers didn't always boot it. The real data was a 3270 terminal away. Microsoft's high-end OSes NT Workstation was a novelty, NT Server was an also ran.

    With Windows 95, they took over the desktop... DOS was hidden, OS/2 defeated, and with Office 95 shipping WELL before Wordperfect ported to Win32... With Win95 they grabbed a desktop monopoly, Office monopoly, and pushed NT Server as highly competitive with Netware and inevitably overtaking them.

    It'd be another 2 years before Netscape made Microsoft wet-itself, panic, and get itself into anti-trust trouble... the SAME anti-trust trouble that caused IBM to use a third-party OS and off-the-shelf processor when creating the PC.

    Microsoft's profits might grow, Win2K might have gotten NT capable of replacing the DOS/Windows combo (XP with XP Home edition finally banished it), but the high water mark was hit. When Win95 launched, everyone was excited, the cheap PC Platform got a lot of expensive Mac/Amiga capabilities. The next few years, Microsoft spent floundering around for expansion (most of which didn't pan out), focused on suffocating competitors like Netscape, and Bill Gates spent time being deposed for court cases...

    So yeah, it was the pinnacle of their success financially, and the peak for him before he went from geek hero to generally appreciated business hero, before his downfall as tech villain... It was the end of his being able to focus on technology and products, and the beginning of managing legal problems.
  • by Julie188 (991243) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#23579519)
    Not sure if I've got all the history right, but if I do, I can see why this would be a highlight for dear old Bill. Windows 95 at first shipped without IE, then included it and by 1998, Bill was embroiled in a nice stressful antitrust case with the DOJ. So Windows 95 represents the height of his power-grabbing, smash-the-competition days. Also, Windows 95 was the first time Bill became cool -- remember the Rolling Stones singing "Start me up" over the start button? They were high in those days, for sure -- high and mighty.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:54PM (#23579629) Homepage
    It was a time of hope, promises and expansion.

    It was all down-hill from there. To this day, the best way to secure a Windows box is to unplug the network cable. And if you can't do that, remove TCP/IP. (Can you run Exchange over IPX or NetBEUI?)

    The ride ain't over yet though... the disappointment of Vista was gradual since they started breaking promises before they released it... and Windows 7 is no different since we're not going to break binary compatibility in order to get away from the virus and malware ridden environment that INCLUDES Vista in spite of all its security enhancements.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:10PM (#23579787) Journal
    TFA quotes Gates as saying "We got to dream about a software industry and the greatest tool of empowerment ever - the personal computer - and be part of creating that in terms of the platform and the applications,"

    I wonder if the fact that MS is now decisively on the wrong side of the computer-as-tool-of-empowerment bothers him? I don't mean as a CEO or shareholder, obviously MS' strategy has made him giant piles of money; but personally. It can be argued that MS had a considerable hand in making cheap and common x86 gear a reality, back in the bad old days of fragmented consumer gear and hyperexpensive IBM suitware; but it has been a while now. Perhaps more than ever, MS is working against empowerment(and no, I'm not just fudding about Vista DRM-OMG!, I'm talking about things like Rights Management Services, and mandatory driver signing.) Even when they feel charitable, their notion of empowerment is "like corporate; but cheaper".

    I wonder, does that bother Bill? What does he feel, privately, about the fact that MS has become the tyrant it overthrew, and has basically settled down to make money by offering software for enforcing corporate control? Does he like that or would he, off the record, admit a certain desire to be on the other side?
  • Sharepoint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrbooze (49713) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:42PM (#23580137)
    Seriously, what is the fucking deal with Sharepoint? Why do people really like this thing? At my last job we had just started making headway getting people to start using Wikis and then in comes the Sharepoint servers. The wikis get abandoned and now Sharepoint works great...for everyone using Windows and IE. Everyone using Macs, Linux, and Firefox tough luck.

    Oh and every little department got their own Sharepoint site, which you needed to be separately granted access to, only they never remembered that and would constantly send out Sharepoint links that nobody else had permissions to access. And we had no cross-site search facilities (I assume *that* at least is possible, our people just didn't implement it) so if you didn't know which of a dozen different sharepoint sites your document was on, tough luck.

    Yeah there's nothing I like better than wanting to look up a list of networks, which should be nothing more than a few lines of text, but instead I get to download an MS Word document or an Excel Spreadsheet and load up the respective clients, in my browser, from my office 2,000 miles away from the Sharepoint server. Several minutes later I can now read a dozen lines of plain text! WOOO!

    Thanks, Bill!
  • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:45PM (#23580167) Journal
    All you old farts going on about how 95 blows chunks are missing the big picture, Windows 95 was so far removed from 3.1 from a usability standpoint that it made PC's what they are to millions.

    When my parents threw out their dos disk-boot comp and brought home a packerd-bell with 95 it was a new world. AOL, and computers, were like a whole new branch of literacy. Things like Encarta were just boondoggling. I can see why this would be a high point to Gates, to me it was a high point, when comps. were like like exploring a forest full of unknowns.
  • by Average (648) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @10:00PM (#23580281)
    '95 was really the moment where the hype had to work. And it did. I remember lines out the door at midnight. Had it been less functional or cool than it was, competitors could have emerged and carved a niche, and the Windows lock-in wouldn't have happened. BeOS, unfortunately, was just a little late in the game and 95 was solidly entrenched by the time Be came out on commodity hardware.

    Windows 2000 was the other pretty-good-OS. All the geeks took it home and installed it on parents machines, etc. Thus, we forget that it was never a home OS. The upgrade path was ME->XP (more likely 98SE->XP) for Joe Sixpack, so they never thought of W2K. It's finally starting to creak to an end (software packages that won't install for whatever reason).

    The other OS that is really good is one you can't legally get. It's called "Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs". Only available (legit) for big corporations. XP stripped the heck down. No BS, no activations, updates work. Best Microsoft OS yet. And they won't sell it to anyone. At, say, a $30 price tag (probably less than they're getting from Dell for OEM Vista), I'd buy ten copies today.
  • by sinewalker (686056) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @01:54AM (#23582179) Homepage
    I think the high-point in Microsoft during Gates' carerr definately has to be when they decided to remove the paperclip from Microsoft Office.
  • by Mr Z (6791) on Thursday May 29, 2008 @02:12AM (#23582279) Homepage Journal

    Windows 95, with all its warts and issues, was something of a high point. And, honestly, I do consider this from the vantage point of hardware built for Windows 95, running Windows 95 OSR2, or its closely related followon, Windows 98SE.

    The launch version of Win95 was awful and nobody was really prepared for it and it caused plenty of problems. It didn't understand USB at all, etc. etc. etc. But, it eventually matured, and it really represented a fundamental mental shift for everyone: DOS is well and truly going away. You could manage things from a GUI. You don't have to set jumpers to install a card.

    This was the first Windows that didn't boot into an obvious DOS first. It was the first Windows that started to feel more like a lot more than a graphical version of DOSSHELL.EXE. It was the first version you could credibly manage almost entirely by GUI, rather than editing obscure .INI files to comment out incompatible VXDs.

    In terms of bringing the state of PC computing forward, Win95 was definitely one of the larger, more successful steps forward. If I had to rate the more successful steps on Microsoft's part, they'd be, in roughly chronological order:

    • MS-DOS/PC-DOS 2.1x: First widely deployed and long-lived DOS iteration. Adds subdirectories, device drivers and the EXE format, IIRC. Powered the generation of IBM PCs, PCjrs and the first wave of compatibles that really began to put the PC on the map.
    • MS-DOS 3.3: Probably the highlight of the DOS networking era. As I recall, this is the peak of the early LanManager attempts at networking PCs. Also brought many ideas from XENIX back into DOS.
    • MS-DOS 6.2 + Win 3.1x: DOS reaches its pinnacle, with proper online help, a decent compiled BASIC and highmem support. Windows finally begins to become something worth putting at the end of AUTOEXEC.BAT for many people. Some of this started happening with MS-DOS 5, but it didn't really reach maturity until MS-DOS 6.2x.
    • Win9x: Win95 was a much needed upgrade in interaction with the PC. Established a new UI that'd hold with minimal changes through XP (though it got a graphical refresh for the default XP theme, classic was still available). It finally made it reasonable for most people to dump DOS. It made managing the system entirely from the GUI credible. Though flawed, it brought us the first instance of Plug-and-Play and the end of the jumper. This alone was a pretty huge step. Combine it with USB, and you have a rather noticeable shift in ease of use at the hardware level. Granted, much of this didn't stabilize until around Win98SE, but in many ways Win98SE was really more of a Win95 SP4.
    • Win2000: This put the NT kernel on the map for most people, and many still run it. This set the stage for the successful release of WinXP.
    • WinXP: For all practical purposes, killed DOS dead for good by bringing the NT kernel to the masses.

    I'm not sure whether Win2K and WinXP both belong on the list as separate bullets, or if they really kinda form a single bullet point. Their biggest contribution together was to kill DOS and force everyone to finally program with at least some hardware abstraction. <soupnazi>No direct hardware access for YOU!</soupnazi>

    At any rate, if I were to name the highlights of the Microsoft path in terms of actually advancing the state of PC computing for most people, those would be the points I pick.

    I'm not a Microsoft fanboi. I was something of a fan, if a bit timid about it, back in the early 90s. I quickly became disillusioned when I got to college and was exposed to UNIX. Here I was with a 386 all to myself that I could barely use without crashing, and I was logging into a timeshare AT&T SVR4 UNIX box with dual 486s, sharing it with 100 other people. In late 1993 I installed Linux and dual booted for a few years, but eventually I was running Linux only. So I'm no Microsoft apologist.

    That said, you'd be

  • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Thursday May 29, 2008 @03:35AM (#23582665) Homepage Journal
    1) Solitaire
    2) Windows 98 se
    3) Windows XP sp1
    4) Getting that contract with IBM
    5) Strong arming governments through bribes
    6) Bundled monopolism (Internet Explorer 5)
    7) Copying Apple
    8) Not being brown like Ubuntu

    Other than that, I don't really see many MS high points, and I've kind of been watching them the whole time. I kind of liked Qbasic for a minute. It was handy, but I think they bought that from somebody when it was mostly feature complete, then fucked it up later. I can't remember now.... Oh the weary and toil of years of tech support have ravaged me, Microsoft, you bloated, retarded, retarding, evil, slow, relentless monopoly. Would somebody please make a Linux distro to put you to rest indefinitely.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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