In any event that costs millions to stage, you expect a few surprises and more than a few rumors that don't come to pass. Launch 95 was no exception. In the utterly uneventful evening before the event, there was talk that Shaq Attack and the Rolling Stones would be at the launch. Not so. A couple of exceptionally bored press people began circulating rumors that there would be elephants and other circus animals under the big top at the Microsoft campus. Also not so. And as for the rumors that there would be no photography allowed from the top of the Ferris wheel, because of the threat of industrial spying...well, that was the result of several of Seattle's finest microbreweries.
But there were plenty of things that did happen that nobody expected. Here are just a few of them.
Stage demos on a 486 with 8MB. Nobody seriously believes that this is an adequate platform for running WIndows 95, yet Bill and Jay opened their applications on just such a system. Of course, they didn't actually try to USE them, but they opened them alright.
Humor from someone other than Leno. In the waiting time before Bill and Jay hit the stage, the screens were filled with odd statistics about WIndows 95. Ten million lines of code, 222 person years in the development, 362 builds...and 314 complaints about the catered food. And in a spoken commentary over the statistic that 77 babies were born to the development team, someone observed to Executive VP Brad Silverberg "So you allowed conjugal visits?"
A mention of the Justice Department. Leno's one liner about that "silly little mixup with the Justice Department" was quickly diverted by comments from Bill Gates, but a little note of honesty was a refreshing note.
A really old joke from Leno. Did anyone seriously believe that Bill Gates' VCR is flashing 12:00?
Surrealism Texas Instruments rented a light aircraft to circle the carnival with a trailing banner reading "Windows 95 will u marry me?" Well, OK...
Forbidden lines from "Start me up" Though carefully edited out of the TV ads, the recording of Mick Jagger sang "You make a grown man cry"--and much, much worse--over the loudspeakers as everyone filed out of the BIll and Jay show.
What remains to be seen now, of course, is whether the operating system will surprise retailers and their customers over the next few months. And the carnival atmosphere on August 24th will hardly have any effect on that.
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