Saturday, December 30, 2006

1990-1995: Microsoft's Yellow Road to Cairo:

Even shipping Windows 95 became a difficult task. In early 1994, Jim Allchin announced that Microsoft was reassigning more programmers to work on Windows 95, and that Cairo would be delayed until late 1995.

By the end of 1994, Microsoft Vice President Mike Maples was quoted as saying that Cairo would slip again, to "sometime in 1996."

A year later, at the end of 1995, Microsoft shipped Windows 95 with what it described as a subset of the Cairo user interface. However, Windows 95 didn't offer the world anything new in user interface technology. It copied liberally from both the Mac and NeXT, and was commonly criticized in the phrase "Windows 95 = Mac '89."

At the release of Windows 95, Microsoft announced that a "first test version" of Cairo would debut in late 1996, with the actual release happening in 1997, more than half a decade after its original announcement.

By 1996 however, Cairo was being described as a vision instead of a real product. In a Computerworld interview, Bill Gates said, "Cairo is a futuristic system. It's something we're working on."

After a half decade of being presented as a legitimate competitor to NeXT's object oriented development tools and various other products, Cairo was revealed as a complete hoax.

Microsoft had fooled the world with a story about delivering the equivalent of NeXT only a few years late, but only ended up shipping a rewarmed version of the 1990 DOS based Windows, and an unworkable, unstable new OS kernel in NT that was not ready for prime time.