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.