I came across an image of a CD from the internet recently titled Microsoft Windows: A Vision for the Future that dates back to 1997. Unsure who this would have been distributed to, though I suspect it was circulated around with IT professionals, partnered vendors, and so forth for the UK market. The purpose was to show Microsoft’s strategy with their Windows product line over the coming years in a nutshell.
The CD was designed to be used with Windows 95 and NT 4.0 at the time. Loading up a Windows 95 virtual machine, I mounted the CD ISO image to check it out. It validates whether Word and PowerPoint are installed beforehand via the Windows registry (or at least checking that DOC and PPT file extensions are assigned to an application), as much of the contents is in these formats. Attempting under Windows 10 comes up with a registry error and won’t progress further. Having neither on this virtual machine, it prompted to install both the Word and PowerPoint ’97 Viewers. Once done it loaded up Internet Explorer with a brightly coloured home page. Selecting Vision along the top provides a slideshow comprising of JPEG images and voiceovers by a woman named Anne Mitchard who worked under the UK branch of Microsoft.
The slideshow predominantly talks about the success of the desktop PC, lowering the cost of ownership, expanding Windows to various form factors, and ending with dot points concerning the yet to be released Windows 98 and NT 5.0 (before it was known as Windows 2000).
When it was discussed about expanding the scope of Windows devices, the initial reaction was that by and large it hasn’t really changed 20 years later. While having a Net PC or an intelligent TV didn’t take off over the following years, it’s evident that some came to fruition such as the Xbox gaming console.
There was a bit of an uncanny resemblance from Windows 10 marketing in terms of the emphasis having multiple devices sharing the one platform. It also gives an indication that VR (virtual reality), touchscreen devices, and IoT (Internet of Things) was yet to be given any thought it seems.
The rest of the CD was a bunch of documents mostly concerning Internet Explorer 4.0, cost of ownership, Windows 95/98, Windows NT Workstation, Windows CE, BackOffice, and Office 97.
One of the better features was a small interactive guide on Windows CE – the Windows designed for small and embedded devices before it was rebranded as Windows Embedded and now Windows IoT.
You could click on the Start menu and double-click on the program icons to load up a demonstration based on the icon chosen. Below was after choosing Pocket Excel.
I felt somewhat underwhelmed by this CD as much of it was aimed at products newly released or in beta with a decent chunk of it as just Office documents. Had it been focussing on even conceptually having various devices running Windows, future user interface design, and the projected future say over the following five to ten years it would have been more intriguing. Perhaps my expectations relied too much on the name of this presentation.
Below are some of the documents found on the CD that may be of interest. While these will open via Google Drive, I recommend downloading and viewing on your PC locally as some of the formatting doesn’t work correctly. I suspect this is due to the files having been created using Word 6.0/95 formatting which is no longer in mainstream use.
Windows NT 4.0 Workstation – Automating Windows NT Setup
Office 97 – Component Strategy
Windows 95 Zero Administration Kit (340 KB)
Windows NT 4.0 Zero Administration Kit (6.5 MB)