25 years ago this week, Microsoft released Windows 95. I remember immediately upgrading from Microsoft Windows 3.11 to Windows 95; it required 13 floppy disks and a whole bunch of hoping and praying. I owned a 386SX/16 with 8MB of RAM at the time.
Still, Windows 95 was a good step in the evolution of personal computers.
People lined up in the streets to buy their copy of Windows 95. The Rolling Stones were paid millions of dollars from Microsoft so their song “Start Me Up” could be used to highlight the Windows 95 start button. Point and click. Plug and play. Exciting times. Technology was evolving and evolving at a very rapid pace.
We are now well into the 21st century but technology couldn’t be anymore boring. Windows 10 still behaves like Windows 95. Heck, it still has Windows 95 dialog boxes in some parts of the interface. What does Apple’s iOS 14 bring us? Widgets? Stop the presses and don’t look the other way; no, Android hasn’t been doing that since for a decade.
Technology has ceased evolving and become merely iterative.
Yes, we have moving buttons and widgets and gadgets and transparent menu bars. Who cares. What’s the next big thing? Is there a next big thing? Where’s the next big thing? Where’s the big advancement that doesn’t take us into the 20th century version 2.1?
Technology is frightfully boring.
I’m typing this blog entry on a 2015 MacBook Pro running Ubuntu Linux. One of the reasons I’m running Linux is because it can be something different. I can make my virtual desktop look and act like I’m on the Starship Enterprise, an old computer running OS/2 Warp, or I can run a desktop environment that is completely different from the Windows or Mac paradigms. People contributing to Linux are actually someone trying something new when writing code to power our computers. Apple just trounces out iteration after iteration of the same thing they introduced 13 years ago. Microsoft Windows is Microsoft Windows. “But you can’t take a photo of someone you don’t know from 15 feet away with the new lens only available on our ‘pro’ device!”. Who the hell cares. My father took pictures of people we didn’t know in 1979 with his Canon AE-1 and our lives aren’t any the richer for it.
The Fortune 500 tech companies have become boring, mundane, and pedestrian. Lean in? Let me take a nap.
As kludgy as it was, and it was wicked kludgy, Windows 95 moved us forward in the world of tech. When do we “Start Me Up” in the 21st century?