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May 22, 1990. Back then, $3 million was a hefty amount, especially for a technology company. But Microsoft pulled no punches in its opening day launch of Windows 3.0 in New York. This was their weapon against the Macintosh and it was the first step in the historical fall of Apple.
In these 25 years, Microsoft has enjoyed great success, but at the cost of great ridicule. It has released some disastrous products, including its flagship Windows operating system. The company’s products haven’t always been perfect, and the Internet has never shied away from making it the punch line.
It’s the operating system we all love to hate, but therein lies the key. It’s 25 years of a love-hate relationship. Microsoft’s imperfections are a part of our lives; they make us nostalgic, they make us laugh. It’s about celebrating the imperfections, so we trawled through several parodies on the web to uncover the best of the best—and really, there are plenty of unfunny spoofs out there.
If The Matrix Ran On Windows XP
In this hilarious parody, College Humor marries the cutting edge of sci-fi pop culture with the operating system that drives you to the edge. What would The Matrix be like if it ran on Windows XP? You will be cracking up at jokes about Windows freezing to a guest appearance by everyone’s favorite helper Clippy, the Office Assistant. No points for authenticity though since the lead actor emotes more than Keanu Reeves ever did.
After Windows 3.0 in 1990, Microsoft’s next major operating system was Windows 3.1 in 1992 and then Windows 95. But you probably didn’t know that there was a Windows 93 in the middle of all that.
Well okay, there wasn’t, but this spoof OS made by a couple of developers shows you what that would have been like. It encapsulates the experience of an early 90s Windows computer in the best way possible, from a fully functioning version of the classic first person shooter Wolfenstein 3D to silly little bits like a “virtual girl” and a file called “Totally not a virus, trust me, I’m a dolphin!” If you really want to relive the good (?) old angst of early Windows, double-click Hydra.exe. Do it.
Internet Explorer 9 (The Honest Version)
Just when you thought Internet Explorer was finally good, Microsoft pulled the rug and announced a new browser instead. A few years ago, MS unleashed an ad blitz for the launch of IE9, claiming it was the best browser around. It wasn’t. And YouTubers World Wide Interweb decided to take one of the commercials and try to depict what using IE is actually like with the help of that commercial.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Parody
Perhaps the most polarizing Windows release in history, Windows 8 decided to cater to both touchscreen users and desktop users. And Microsoft also released a Consumer Preview so people could try it out. Windows 8 didn’t impress anyone. More importantly, Microsoft’s “everything is awesome!” toned ads and presentations were even worse, as the company showed off new features that were obviously flawed in many ways. Thankfully, YouTube funnyman Louie Barra is here to walk you through all of them.
Microsoft SAM Sings About XP
You can get Apple’s Siri to say whatever you want, but she isn’t the first digital talking companion on a personal computer. Microsoft SAM came into our homes with Windows 2000, and apart from his inability to say “soy”, he was not that bad. Or so I thought, but memory can be defective, as The Electric Hippie Orchestra’s little duet with SAM shows. It’s a song about Windows XP, sung by Windows XP, produced on Windows XP.
Speaking of Windows XP, let’s relive its glory through this wonderfully accurate Flash version of XP. Start up “Internet Venturer” and you are greeted with a message that finally provides the sub-text of Microsoft’s frustrating error messages: “The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. And it’s not like I’m saying you should hold your breath either. It’s easier to blame you, so we will. It’s your fault this won’t work.” Explore the whole OS, the makers have put a lot of work into it, especially MSN Messenger and ChatSlangGirl. Plus, it has Kazaa, you guys!
Google Glass on Windows
We started with thinking about what The Matrix on Windows would be like, so let’s end with something similar. Google Glass is incredible technology, but imagine it being made by Microsoft. You don’t have to imagine because vlakkeland made a little video demonstrating this futuristic experience. Are you sure you want to permanently delete his banana?
A Trip Down Memory Lane
In case all of this has you taking a trip down memory lane, go a little further and check out some of these classic operating systems you can access in your browser.
But before you go, tell us your oldest or most vivid memory of Microsoft Windows. My first machine was running on Windows 3.1 and I spent an unnecessary/unhealthy amount of time perfectly tiling and organizing windows. It has been 25 years, you know you have some great stories too!