Redmond, Wash., June 25, 1998 — Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates will host a gala event in San Francisco this evening to celebrate the commercial launch of Windows 98, but the party really started yesterday morning. That’s when customers across America began lining up to take advantage of midnight promotions at retail stores nationwide.
On the hottest day of the year in Atlanta, dozens of people lined the sidewalks outside local CompUSA outlets to be among the first to own copies of Windows 98 and to take advantage of other bargains the stores were offering. After hearing about these Microsoft customers sweltering in the summer heat, employees at the local Microsoft office rushed to deliver Popsicles and bottles of water as a gesture of thanks.
New Yorkers who were lined up to purchase copies of Windows 98 got pizza courtesy of local Microsoft employees, and many retailers across the country provided food, beverages and balloons to the intrepid shoppers.
Since one minute past midnight this morning, Microsoft Windows 98, the operating system that works better and plays better, has been available in more than 40 countries and more than 12,000 retail outlets in North America. More than 200 PC manufacturers – including the top 25 manufacturers – will be shipping Windows 98-based consumer machines starting today or within a month. Windows 98, which is faster and more reliable than previous operating systems and offers users a wide range of new entertainment and hardware options, is expected to be available on more than 90 percent of all new consumer PCs within 30 days.
“Windows 98 is the first version of Windows that we designed specifically for home users,” Gates said. “As a result, this is the easiest version of Windows yet, and will help bring the power of the PC to new users worldwide.”
CompUSA, the nation’s largest computer retailer, hosted “Late Night at CompUSA” promotions at its stores nationwide. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. today, each store opened for 98 minutes and offered special deals, such as 10 PCs for $98 each and 10 CD-ROM drives for 98 cents each, as well as Microsoft’s new Windows 98 operating system. Many other retailers also offered special promotions. In addition to great bargains on software and hardware, retailers offered customers entertainment ranging from swing-band music to laser shows.
Those efforts were not lost on customers. In Washington, D.C., people started lining up Wednesday at 7 a.m. On Long Island, shoppers arrived outside local stores at 8 a.m. with lawn chairs to make the wait more comfortable. In California, a group of friends set up a table on the sidewalk and played cards as they waited for the store to open at midnight.
At one store in New England, customers started lining up as early as 2 a.m. on Wednesday to secure their places in line. One man, who was paid by a friend to wait in line all day, was interviewed by a radio reporter who asked how much he was being paid. The answer: $98.