Memories of launches past

While going through some boxes full of old stuff I ran across this pass from the Windows 95 launch party in Redmond, hosted by Jay Leno on a glorious August day in Redmond in 1995. I also found a pass from the Windows XP unveiling in February 2001.


The actual launch party was a very subdued occasion held in New York City in October 2001, when the country as a whole had other things on its mind. The event kicked off with the singing of “God Bless America,” and Bill Gates was introduced by Rudy Giuliani. I didn’t attend.

October 25, 2001

I don’t recall a formal launch party for Windows Vista, unless you count CES, which fell midway between the business introduction in New York on November 30, 2006, and the consumer release, also in New York, on January 30, 2007, as documented by Mary Jo Foley.

CEO Steve Ballmer at the Vista kick-off luncheon

Microsoft hasn’t had good luck with Windows launches this decade, and Windows 7 is probably going to continue that unfortunate tradition. If the economy had remained strong, the Windows 7 launch probably would have been a big and glitzy affair. Now, though, with layoffs underway at Microsoft and customers worldwide tightening their belts, I expect a much more restrained, even businesslike, event. If the kickoff is in July or August of this year, I anticipate that I’ll be heading to Redmond, where the long summer days are perfect for a party. I certainly wouldn’t want to go to New York in the dog days of summer.

16 thoughts on “Memories of launches past

  1. One ‘silver lining’ resulting from all the belt tightening could be an increase in quality. Or, put another way, doing more (or better) with less.

    From what I hear about System 7 being less-taxing than Vista—usable on older systems—that might be possible.

  2. Will Windows 7 launch without Windows Mail as has been reported, if so that will be an absolute deal breaker for me. I know about Windows live and tried it and hate it. What is wrong with KISS.

  3. Ray, Windows Mail will not be included. However, you can download Windows Live Mail. That actually has (almost) nothing to do with the online Windows Live service. It is the latest revision of Outlook Express, which turned into Windows Mail and then into Windows Live Mail. It still supports POP, IMAP, and other standard mail protocols, and it does newsgroups and RSS feeds as well.

    Don’t let the name put you off. Give it a try and you might like it.

  4. I run Windows XP. Seeing Ed’s and Paul Thurott’s praise for the Live Essentials add-ins, I decided to try them out. I didn’t realize until a couple of days ago they’re able to be installed to XP (SP2 or better). Yesterday I installed two of the seven programs: Live Mail and Photo Gallery. It is as Ed said: you might like them.

  5. Are they really expecting home users to download these programs, or are they planning to pay to get them installed by the OEMs? I understand the desire to take preemptive steps to avoid the EU competition commission, but I don’t get the business model.

    P.S. With Movie Maker gone, what’s DVD Maker still doing in the install?

  6. Tom, it’s a single-click download/install process for the entire suite (althugh you can customize). Very easy. And yes, they hope and expect that most OEMs will provide this (or a competing option) as part of the standard install. I think HP and/or Dell and maybe both have already signed on.

    DVD Maker burns files onto DVDs. Movie Maker edits and creates movie files. They have always been companion pieces of software. In theory, you could use any movie editor to create the raw materials that then go on a DVD. But I agree, the line is prety blurry here,

  7. I was one of those standing in line at midnight at an Egghead Software store in Tucson, Az, when Windows 95 came out. (Oh, the hype, Oh, the humanity!)

    Local TV stations even showed up…

    I drove home, installed it, and sure enough, Windows 95 worked, right away!

  8. Ed: Windows Live download with only Windows Mail selected took me 2 hours on dialup. There are some of us that cannot get highspeed internet. Mail on vista was very similiar to Outlook Express but Live mail is too into RSS feeds and News and every time you open it goes to the internet and when on dialup you don’t need to do that just to scan on older E-Mail.

  9. Ray, the reason it took two hours might be because it was using the backgrond download option. You can choose the option to download the full installer and it might take less time.

    You should also be able to configure it to not check automatically. Tools, Options, clear “Send and receive messages at startup” box. The remaining default is to Do Not Connect if your computer is not connected.

    You can also delete the default RSS feeds with a few clicks, and no newsgroups are set up.

    I appreciate your wanting everything to remain as it was, but broadband access is the norm now, and dial-up is the exception. It doesn’t take long to adjust the settings, though, if you approach it with an open mind.

  10. I thought this line about the retail stores in the XP press release (from your link) was most telling of the changes since then:

    “Earlier this morning, Gates joined Gateway CEO Ted Waitt and Intel CEO Craig Barrett for “Windows XP Madness” events at the Gateway Country Store and CompUSA retail store in New Yorks Columbus Circle; the executives autographed copies of the operating system for the first consumers to buy them.”

  11. Ed: I found the menu bar and tools and unchecked everything there was and Mail stills wants to dialup the internet. I can live with Live Mail if it wasn’t for wanting to dial when opening.
    Standalone Windows Mail is 12.5Mb which is about 1 hour 15 min for dialup.

  12. Ray, why don’t you contact support and ask them how to make it stop?

    Also, don’t you have access to a fast machine where you can download stuff and save it to a flash drive or CD?

  13. Ray, you might look into ADSL service to see if it’s available in your area. The lowest level of ADSL is very competitive with dial-up service, price-wise. It’s an order of magnitude faster (8X) and less headache-prone than dial-up.

    Like you, I hated the way Windows itself (and/or the applications) managed my dial-up connection. I liked determining myself when to start (AND stop) my dial-up connection. I wrote simple scripts to ensure that happened. Plus there are at least two different control panels you need to set properly.

    I’ve had DSL for only a couple of years now. I was probably the last of my peers to make the switch to broadband. …I don’t know which country you live in, or which version of Windows you’re running, so please forgive my gratuitous advice.

  14. Ed: Dan: FYI. Yes I do have friends to download to a flash drive but I thought I would just download it my self and Microsoft doesn’t tell you how big the package is I started and went to the grocery store. The package for Mail only is 20.16 Mb which is why 2 hours. Also I am running XP Pro, Vista and Windows 7.on about 5 machines. Microsoft Live support so far has only told me to “Never dial a connection” to correct my problem, a no go for dialup. I also believe many people will be disappointed with no mail program when they buy a Windows 7 machine this fall. Thanks for listening, Ray

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