ANOTHER ICONIC PRODUCT has hit the two-decade mark today. Windows 95 was considered by many to be the game-changer that took Microsoft from providing 'an' operating system to 'the' operating system, and thus cornering the market for nearly 20 years.
Windows 95 was the first to adopt the graphical user interface that has evolved into what we still see today in Windows 10. Perhaps most notably, the Start button arrived, and we know what happened when Microsoft tried to ditch that in Windows 8.
Other debut features included the taskbar, the desktop and Windows Explorer, and it was the first to include 'plug and play' options for a range of peripherals from printers to barcode readers.
It was also the first time that Windows combined MS-DOS with Windows in a single package, moving towards a 32-bit compatible infrastructure as it did so. In short, at the time, it was the mutt's nuts.
And, lest we forget, it was the first version of Windows to have a start-up sound, in this case commissioned and composed by Brian Eno.
Some questioned its credentials as a standalone operating system as it relied heavily on MS-DOS as a backbone, but this was more an issue of ensuring heritage compatibility, rather than the half-arsed effort that some suggested.
There was a beta programme, which cost $19.95 to cover the cost of diskettes and shipping, and became useless when the full product launched. How times have changed in this era of the Windows Insider programme.
Windows 95 reached end of life at the end of 2001, by which time Windows XP had taken on many of the best-loved features and run with them, knocking over Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition (smirk) in its wake.
It also kicked rival OS/2 into touch once and for all. The OS/2 platform was designed by IBM and its demise marked the end of the term 'IBM compatible' being used to describe what we now call a PC.
The number of users left is too small to measure, but the effect it had on driving Microsoft's dominance forward makes it one of the most important pieces of software in history.
As our tribute to this legendary piece of software, please sit forward, find something that you don't mind ruining as you grip your fingernails to it in cringing embarrassment, and endure this guide to Windows 95 starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, two of the biggest stars of the era, best known for that thing with the six people and the duck.
WARNING: Contains gratuitous use of the word 'propellerheads'. µ
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