Windows

Classic Microsoft commercials and videos you may have forgotten

Greg Shultz takes a look at the long history of novel Microsoft advertising campaigns with a retrospective of videos long since past.

Everybody is now familiar with the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld Vista commercials as well as the I'm a PC commercials that Microsoft began using as retaliation to Apple's Hello, I'm a Mac series of commercials. However, Microsoft's advertising campaigns have a long history. In this blog post, I'll take a look back at some of Microsoft's classic Windows commercials. I'll also toss in a host of other Microsoft-related videos for your entertainment pleasure.

Steve Ballmer sells Windows 1.0

In 1986, Steve Ballmer, in true Billy Mays form, pitched Windows 1.0 in a classic infomercial format. Of course, this spoof was created for internal use at Microsoft and never really aired on TV; however, it is incredibly funny.

Windows 95 - Start Me Up

The launch of Windows 95 was a spectacular, worldwide extravaganza that featured all sorts of promotional campaigns and events. But the coup d'état was getting the Rolling Stones to allow Microsoft to license the hit song "Start Me Up" as the Windows 95 theme song in order to highlight the new Start button. This song was edited down a bit and featured in this advertisement.

Windows 98 - Where do you want to go today?

While the release of Windows 98 wasn't as an amazing event as the one for Windows 95, Microsoft did have a very interesting commercial that featured a fast-moving collage of images and video highlighting Windows 98 and a host of other Microsoft products.

Windows ME - So many possibilities

While as a whole, Windows ME was a flop, the operating system did introduce a ton of new features that were eventually perfected in Windows XP. Even so, the promotional video for Windows ME was actually really cool!

Windows 2000 - It's a window

This one is really out there, on the farm that is.... In this European commercial for Windows 2000, a farmer in a suit crashes his tractor into the side of a barn.

Windows XP - You can fly

In this commercial for Windows XP, the new operating system allows people to literally fly while using the speedy new version of Windows.

Windows Vista - Wow!

This commercial extolled the virtues of Windows Vista with an interesting collage of people's one-word reaction to witnessing amazing things, including seeing the new operating system for the first time.

Bill Gates praising Apple computers

In the early 80s, a young Bill Gates, obviously intent on positioning Microsoft in the right spot just in case the Apple Macintosh beat out the IBM PC for the dominant spot in the emerging personal computer market, praises the Apple Macintosh as a machine that really captures people's imagination.

Bill Gates in Doom

On October 30, 1995, at Microsoft's Judgment Day trade show, the company was promoting Windows 95 with the new DirectX API as the ultimate gaming platform. In order to promote the Windows 95 gaming platform, Microsoft created a promotional video that featured Bill Gates inside the game Doom, which at the time was extremely innovative and very popular. In addition to blowing away alien monsters, a shotgun-toting Gates, complete with trench coat, discussed the problems with DOS gaming and highlighted the capabilities that the new DirectX API was bringing to gaming in Windows.

As a side note, Microsoft did continue to focus on the DirectX API as a gaming platform and eventually created a gaming console that was initially called the DirectX Box and, later, simply the Xbox.

Windows 98's public Blue Screen of Death

In this classic video, Bill Gates and Chris Capossela, a Microsoft presenter at the 1998 Comdex show, are demonstrating Windows 98's ease of use and enhanced support for Plug and Play, when all of a sudden the system encountered a Blue Screen Of Death, leaving both men speechless for several moments before the event becomes humorous. (Editor's note: I was there, and it was very funny.)

Bill Gates helps Napoleon Dynamite

In 2005, at the Professional Developers Conference, Bill Gates began his keynote speech by introducing a video he described as being about a recent recruiting trip. It turns out to be a spoof in which he dreams about helping Napoleon Dynamite upgrade computers with Office 2003. Bill and Jon Heder, the actor who plays Napoleon Dynamite, are actually quite a good duo in this little video.

Bill Gates's last day

At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, in his keynote speech, Bill Gates formally announced his retirement from day-to-day duties at Microsoft. To commemorate the occasion, Microsoft put together a star-studded comedy video making fun of what would Bill do in retirement.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

14 comments
Vineet369
Vineet369

Since I live on the opposite side of the world, of where, land of Bill Gates is, and also since my encounter with computers started with Win 98, (which quickly jumped to XP), I was hardly aware of these incredible commercials! Watching this had re-instated my faith in Windows, and with Bill too. I truly believe that these ads had a prominent role in bringing Windows to the doorsteps of such a huge population. P.S. You should really do a sequel of this blog Greg. And, Thanks for sharing.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I had forgotten some of these and never seen others. I also rediscovered my favorite Windows soundtrack: the Beethoven's Fifth Boogie in the Win98 commercial.

Aaron A Baker
Aaron A Baker

Well Done Greg. I truly enjoyed the walk down memory lane. Gosh, I've used every one of these programs and go all the way back to Windows on a Floppy. Windows 3.1 and so forth. It was a nice nostalgia trip. Don't know how you did it, but I Thank You my Friend Warmest regards Aaron

nb_bhai
nb_bhai

Wow! WOnderful collection - all at one place. Thanks

CG IT
CG IT

of all the commercials, I think it's the best one they did. Probably repackage it for Windows 7 and it'd be a hit. the funniest is Bill's last day... the clapper!!! LOL

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What commercial or video from or for an IT company or technology is your favorite?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...to the Windows 98 commectial too. However, I never knew the origin of the music... Is it really an adaptation of Beethoven's Fifth? Who played it? Do you know where I can get a copy?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Glad to hear that you enjoyed veiwing them as much as I enjoyed putting them together. If you're interested in seeing more of them, let me know and I'll push for a sequel. ;-)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Yes, but I could be mistaken. It also sounds like parts of the 7th and 9th. I have no idea, but would like to. :( Unfortunately no. If I knew, I'd have a copy too! :D When the ad first played, I asked a friend of my brother to see if he could find out who played the music (the friend worked for an ad agency). He couldn't get anybody to talk about it. I strongly suspect it was created strictly for the commercial. Given the style and sound, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find that Jools Holland had something to do with it.

Aaron A Baker
Aaron A Baker

Thanks Greg. I think it would be a great idea and it would certainly bring the entire collection into the spotlight. So by all means, if it's possible, you've certainly got my vote. Thanks again Warmest Regards Aaron

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...the Da Da Da ad for Internet Explorer is a classic! I didn't forget that one, it's just that I couldn't include them all in one article and that one got cut. There are many other classic Microsoft/Gates & Ballmer ads out there. So, stay tuned... I'll see about a putting together a sequel.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I'm starting to question whether I'm right about the source of the music. I'm pretty sure it's Beethoven, but it may be one of his piano works and not one of the symphonies. I'm still listening through my collection to find it.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Nick, Thanks for the answers. Anybody out there have any ideas?

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