The decision to call the next Windows version Windows 10 and not Windows 9 has prompted a look back at the history of Windows version naming, particularly those that were released back in the 90s. It might have also prompted some musing of what could have been. For example, what if Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, after one too many rounds at the bar, decided to make an interim release before Windows 95? What would have been the design and what would have been the experience? Wonder no more, because Windows 93 has finally been released.
Don’t worry, Windows 93 is a completely web-based operating system, which shows how forward looking Microsoft was back in those days. Or how insane French digital artists Jakenpopp and Zombectro were in cooking up this “tribute”, if you could call it that. Once you “boot up” the OS, you are immediately greeted by a familiar sound. Not the Windows start up music but that of the PlayStation 1. Cue Sony’s lawyers shuffling papers. If that weren’t enough to make you cringe, or cry over nostalgia, the wallpaper, or lack of it, might. Instead of some generic photo, you are greeted, nay slapped in the face, with a glaring purple and blue gradient that thankfully never made it into any designer’s toolbox.
Once the initial shock has subsided, presuming you’re still around, you will meet the familiar sights and feels of a Windows 95 desktop. Well, at least one that might have gone horribly wrong at beta. You have the task bar and window management that survives even to this day, sans the Start menu that Windows 8 threw out and Windows 10 will regain. And, like any Windows desktop back in those days, it is filled with a ton of stuff, both useful and not. There are hidden easter eggs in every nook and cranny, some of which might not be appropriate to view in the office. There’s even a DOOM clone and a Virtual PC program that will let you run Windows 93 inside Windows 93 inside Windows 93. Unfortunately that seems to be the max you can take this Winception.
Aside from a trip down memory lane of what might have been, Windows 93 perhaps showcases the insane things you can do with web technologies these days. Run a full 3D game? Sure! Run an almost full GUI inside the browser? Absolutely! Fortunately or unfortunately, Windows 93 isn’t done yet and some new features, and maybe new bugs, might crop up soon in Service Pack 1.