How Windows 95 Started Up Some Classic Rock Connections

Customers line up for Windows 95
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You'd almost never confuse a rock concert with the launch of a computer program - but the all-out spectacle that accompanied Microsoft's launch of their Windows 95 operating system certainly came close.

The groundbreaking tech first appeared in stores on Aug. 24, 1995, and was promoted with an aggressive marketing campaign that included, for the first time ever, a licensed song by The Rolling Stones: their smash 1981 hit "Start Me Up." The band was reportedly paid $3 million in exchange for the use of the song - although estimates at the time were much higher. The song also blared over the speakers at a Microsoft launch event, which led to the astounding sight of the company's co-founder Bill Gates, future CEO Steve Ballmer, and a host of other employees dancing to the beat of their own songs.

READ MORE: August 1981: The Rolling Stones Release "Start Me Up"

The rock didn't stop with commercials, either. Among the extras included on the program's start-up CD-ROM included the video to Weezer's "Buddy Holly," in which the alt-rock heroes are spliced into a dance sequence at Arnold's, the restaurant hangout from Happy Days. Reportedly, none of the band members owned computers and had no idea what being included as part of Windows 95 - a system that would power more than half of every PC by the end of the century - would mean. "I was furious because at the time I was like, 'How are they allowed to do this without permission?'" drummer Patrick Wilson later recalled. "Turns out it was one of the greatest things that could have happened to us. Can you imagine that happening today? It's like, there's one video on YouTube, and it's your video."

There's one more rock cameo hidden in plain sight on Windows 95, too: the distinctive sound and chime when the program begins was created by none other than Brian Eno, the recording whiz who'd produced and collaborated with the likes of U2, Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Devo and others.

"The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas," Eno later told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, 'Here's a specific problem – solve it.'" Eno compared creating a seconds-long piece to crafting "a tiny little jewel," and his dozens of passes at the assignment helped him get back into longer compositions.

Ironically, though, Windows itself had nothing to do with his creation. "I wrote in on a Mac," he admitted. "I've never used a PC in my life; I don't like them."

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