This website allowed Microsoft to create excitement online about the release of its Windows® 95 operating system, as well as provide customers around the world with information about the products that support it. It was Microsoft’s first serious Internet experience and was developed in 90 days in order to launch the day that Windows 95 launched. On that day, this site went up on garnered more hits an hour than any other site on the Net to that point. Also, Microsoft’s own sites came down that day sue to traffic.
The project was actually four projects:
- An online netcast of the live launch events taking place on August 24, 1995 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, allowing the online audience to be spectators at the live event.
- A narrative-based Nethunt (scavenger hunt) in which people could solve clues for prizes over a two-week period
- A product pavilions area with information on over 200 products that were WIndows 95 ready at the time of the launch. This was built through an online remote publishing engine in which each industry representative was responsible for their own information.
- A worldwide network of 11 servers that vivid built, configured, and deployed to handle the traffic. A round-robin updating scheme was built so that changes on any server would automatically dispersed to all servers within 10 minutes.
AnnD Canavan: Executive Producer
Zeb Rice: Project Management
Nathan Shedroff: Creative Direction and Visual Design
Steve de Brun: Visual Design and Production
Eric Forste: HTML and Perl Programming
Yaro Faybashinko: HTML and Perl Programming
Jake Donham: HTML Programming
Pam Guacci: Production Assistance
Ken Fromm: Backend Management
Paul Guth:System Aministration
Brian Ng: System Aministration
Jerry Scharff: Network Design
Illuminated Media: Live Media Coordination
vivid built an extensive site that conveyed the feel of the on-campus launch activities by presenting real-time audio and video (as well as text transcripts) of speeches by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and comedian Jay Leno, as well as Microsoft officials and members of the development team. Photographs and text descriptions allowed site visitors to tour the many product tents erected on the campus (each featuring a category of third-party products or demonstrations of how Windows® 95 could be used for home, office, and mobile computing).
In preparation for the site launch, vivid created a staging area where more than 300 Microsoft partners contributed information about their products. The engine vivid developed offered a forms-based front-end to an HTML generator; partners could input their own text and graphics on a form, review the resulting webpages, and edit them up until the launch date, all without ever having to write any code.