It’s been 20 years since Microsoft’s most embarrassing moment (besides Vista, obviously)

It’s been 20 years since Microsoft’s most embarrassing moment (besides Vista, obviously)

Forgive me if this article makes you feel old, but I feel it’s my journalistic responsibility to inform you that this video of Windows 98 shitting the bed in a most public fashion turned 20 years old this weekend. Let’s revisit it:

Let me set the scene. Twenty years ago, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and assistant Chris Capossela (who is now Chief Marketing Officer at Redmond) were demonstrating Windows 98 before a live audience at the COMDEX conference.

One of the big features was plug-and-play. You’d plug in a peripheral — like a printer, joystick, or whatever — and it’d just work, to borrow a phrase from Apple.

Anyway, it didn’t “just work.” Not even close. The computer threw up a blue screen of death (BSOD) error, evoking laughter and jeers from the audience.

For what it’s worth, Gates handled the situation really well, joking: “That must be why we’re not shipping Windows 98 yet.”

For Microsoft, however, it was a very embarrassing public failure. The incident was even parodied in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park Movie.

Windows 98 was the follow-up to the roaring success that was Windows 95. There were a lot of expectations riding on it. Although this SNAFU went viral (before such a thing even existed), it didn’t dent the success of the product. Microsoft sold 25 million units in 1998 alone.

Although nothing can replace the arse-clenchingly cringeworthiness of the Windows 98 epic fail, other Microsoft demos have come close. In 2006, a demonstration of the voice recognition in the Windows Vista operating system went hilariously awry:

Thankfully, Microsoft has gone from strength-to-strength in the years since. Windows 10 is a really solid, really stable operating system. Now, when Microsoft unveils a new product, it evokes gasps and admiration, and not titters.

And just so nobody accuses me of having a hard-on for Microsoft, here’s a supercut of Apple product launches going tits-up. Enjoy:

H/T: The Register

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