Apple and Google dominate the smartphone software game, but could Microsoft break the mould with an injection of nostalgia?
An estimated 2.5 billion people own a smartphone, and there are thousands of models from hundreds of manufacturers like, Apple, Nokia, Google, LG, Samsung, Huawei and so on. But when it comes to smartphone software, consumer choice is incredibly limited.
Iphones use Apple’s own IOS while the vast majority of other phones use Google’s Android. The two operating systems hold a duopoly on the smartphone software market comparable only perhaps to Nike and Adidas’ dominance in football or ‘The Wire’ and ‘Breaking Bad’s dominance in ‘everyone’s favourite TV shows’.
But the OS marketplace feels ripe for change. If Microsoft’s state of the art phone software can’t draw the same numbers as IOS and Android, should they look back to move forward and make this Windows 95 concept a reality?
Yes, yes it’s glorious!
Look at it. It’s beautiful. YouTuber 4096 is behind the concept imagery, whose channel is mainly a series of immaculately produced animations of various pieces of tech and gaming hardware. The designs borrow from the tiled format currently found on modern windows smartphones but dress it up in the iconic and unmistakable brutalism of Windows 95.
It comes complete with the grey, turquoise and blue colour scheme of the original software – released back when office workers still clipped biros to their shirt pockets – a combination that’s likely to trigger a beautiful nostalgia in anyone who had it installed on their PC. It’s rendered in wonderful high-definition, but pixels are kept visible where necessary to ensure that retro charm.
Forget Siri, Alexa or Cortana. With this Windows 95 phone you get Clippy as your personal assistant. The affable paper clip used to appear in the bottom corner of Windows desktops if you ever had trouble formatting a word doc or forgot where to find Minesweeper, but now he can help you with anything. As long as the answer is on the internet.
No, No, sentimentality is the enemy
As a famous man once said (maybe?) sentimentality is the enemy of progress. Could Windows seriously compete with Apple using the geeky Gates 90s aesthetic?
A major problem facing Microsoft if they ever did decide to make a Windows 95 phone, is that a very large part of smartphone consumer market weren’t even born when the original software was released. That tingling feeling you get when you see the Windows flag logo? That won’t happen for these guys. The nostalgia will bear no significance to them.
Unfortunately for anyone trying very hard to wish this phone into existence, even if Microsoft desperately wanted to make it, it just wouldn’t sit with third party app developers. The phone would only be able to run apps built specifically for it, meaning that developers would have to completely remake their own apps just to be on the phone. Either way, hats off to 4096 for this dial-up PC flashback.