Children of the 90s

Microsoft has an excellent "browser you loved to hate" ad campaign on, contrasting negative memories of its products to positive memories of the age in which they existed. It seems risky, but it's a clever act of emotive substitution. It demands parody, too, doesn't it?


    1. Yeah, the thing that confuses me about a lot of the “children of the 90s” memes is that they always include stuff that was not decade specific. I saw one that included “The Fox and The Hound” just because it came out on VHS in the 90s or something. That means all children of the 80s can claim “The Maltese Falcon” …

  1. Hungry Hungry Hippos was most definitely a product of the 70’s.  Now get off my lawn, you little 90’s whippersnappers!

  2. Thanks, Microsoft. I can never love IE. The cognitive dissonance I just experienced has instead led me to hate my childhood.

    1. Don’t hate your childhood. Hate Microsoft for a pathetic and failed attempt to exploit your childhood to their own ends. Just because they’re able to exploit their death grip on a large number of offices, forcing us to keep purchasing unnecessary “upgrades” to their shoddy, poorly designed products doesn’t mean they can ruin everything.

      1.  Yeah, like Craig Finn from The Hold Steady says,

        “The 80’s almost killed me
        Lets not remember them quite so fondly”

    1. I dug up my old XP150 which was in a box at my parents house.  The nozzle is missing and it still reeks of gas…but lets just say that baby can make one hell of a flame thrower…

  3. I don’t understand why Microsoft needs people to use IE? Would they be harmed in some way if suddenly all IE users switched to Firefox or Opera? How is a campaign like this a good use of Microsoft’s money?

        1. People are lazy. How many Chrome users do you know who changed the default search from Google to Bing? Hook most people on a browser, and they’ll never change a single setting.

  4. It makes me think that maybe Microsoft products sucked because everything in the 90’s kind of sucked. But now that it’s 2013 and Microsoft products still suck, I can’t blame it on the decade.

    1. “Our detractors are all dumb trolls – and that means you! Regards, Microsoft”
      How about implementing HTML4 properly before 6? How about not creating a new standard before meeting the open ones? 
      (am I that guy?)

  5. I had a different take-away on this ad – I think they’re trying to say “things were different in the 90’s – we’re not doing any of these things any more.  You changed, and clearly we can to.  Give us another chance.”

    1.  I think everyone got that. But they´re still playing catch up, the biggest improvements to IE have been made after everyone else innovated. Netscape, Firefox, Opera, Chrome. They say they’ve grown up, but it only means they’ve caught up (maybe) and for how long?

      1. Fair disclosure up front: I work for a subdivision of Microsoft on one of their games… and I agree they completely stalled until competition showed up. But IE10’s doing pretty well (I searched for IE10, Chrome, Standards, Independant on and, and could only find articles like this one that say that IE10 and Chrome are pretty neck-and-neck). I attended the Penny Arcade Game Developer’s Conference last year, and in the Angry Birds / Google panel Google employees were saying that IE’s passing them in performance areas critical to game developers… Microsoft really is investing heavily in their web technology stacks.

        Edit: To be clear, I personally think it’s a great thing that there’s healthy competition, and wish everyone weighed their choices intelligently. Choose what’s best for you based on facts, not dogma, as this is the only way to ensure that the environment continues to improve.

        –All opinions that of my own, and not my employer–

          1. In researching this problem, IE devs discovered this was usually due to add-ins. Now, IE prompts me whenever a new add-in is detected that delays startup time by a predetermined threshold (something like .1s), giving me the option to disable it if it’s unwanted.

        1. I am totally willing to give Microsoft credit where it’s due; I’ve had good experiences with many of their products, I grew up with DOS and Windows, I’m named after Microsoft Bob (not really), but… Internet Explorer is an awful, poisonous, evil piece of software that should have been taken out behind the woodshed and shot through the head at least 10 years ago.I have opinions on lots of software, but IE is in a different league.  I despise it from the bottom of my heart.  The hundreds upon hundreds of hours I’ve spent working around its incompatibilities since the late nineties, including the “fully standards-compliant” versions 7 and later…  and I am but one man.  The total payload of suffering IE has doled out during its miserable, poxy lifetime is beyond imagining.The claim, again, that it’s finally fixed this time just makes me angrier.  No, IE, no.  Any goodwill you were due was exhausted long before this century began.  Until IE is replaced with a WebKit fork, I’m not willing to spend even 20 seconds giving it another chance.  It’s filth.

          Oh, and I haven’t even touched on its role as the world’s malware superhighway.  I think I had my latest PC about a week before the first shitty toolbar managed to install itself in IE9.  Kill it.  KILL IT WITH FIRE.

          1. Fair enough! I agree earlier versions of IE used up plenty of goodwill; I was a web/middle-tier developer in the .com boom/bust, and can readily sympathise.

            That said, I’m surprised by your backing of webkit… I was under the impression that the prevelance of the webkit- prefix is a source of consternation in the industry.

            I did a search for ‘webkit standards’ to see if things had changed recently… and these are a few of the hits:

            –As always, opinions that of my own and not my employer —

      1. As well as the aforementioned hippos.

        Tommy Smothers might giggle at yo-yo tricks being considered a Gen Y thing.

  6. This definitely made me nostalgic…for Netscape, which pretty much defined my browsing back then.

    Felt like a lot of the things they showed were late-80s fads more than 90s, though I suppose that could be a regional thing.

  7. That commercial reminds me of this:

    Total pandering. 

    The Apple ads with John Hodgman as “I’m a PC [running Windows]” may have been a stereotype, but MS’s advertising and marketing strategies tends to suggest that it’s a pretty spot-on stereotype.

    “Hey how should we advertise our new Windows 8 tablets?”
    “Use ‘dubstep’. I hear that’s really popular right now.”

    “We need to inspire confidence in our new phones, since we fucked up so badly with the Kin and Kin 2, and this new phone looks a lot like those, except with full color. What should we do?”
    “Let’s get celebrity endorsements. Lots of them. Popular people like… that Hollaback Girl singer, and the guy who did that ‘I’m on a Boat’ song that my kids are always singing. Oh, and the guy from Arrested Development — no not the lead guy…the unimpressive magic guy — I feel like his trying-too-hard- personality and tendency towards epically failing everything really resonates with our products. OH — be sure that they hold the phones by just the corner so that everyone can see the whole phone in all it’s glory, even though no one in their right mind would ever hold a phone like that.”

  8. I also was mostly thinking of Netscape as I watched that.

    I’m wondering if this campaign is timed to coincide with a downturn in firefox’s fortunes? I gave up on firefox and uninstalled it last week after almost 10 years of it being my primary browser.

  9. They only referenced the dumb stuff we had in the 90’s. Slap sticks and fanny packs? That stuff was never cool. 

    They mis-dated Oregon Trail too.

    1. I expect a lot of school districts were probably still running computers with Oregon Trail in the 90s. I think we still had some Commodore 64s.

    2. Yeah, for some reason this looked more like my teenage years in the early to mid 1980’s. The bulky Walkman, the clothing, Oregon Trail… only the Hungry Hungry Hippos were already passé by then.

      Then again, I suppose Microsoft wants to pretend that life began with Windows 3.11.

  10. This is much much better than the terrible dub step pop music screaming at me. And that particular commercial enrages me anyway, “LOOK! YOU CAN DO THE INTERNET WITH THIS PRODUCT!”

    But does anyone really choose to use IE. My guess is that most ie usage comes from folks that don’t know they can have other browsers, or simply don’t care enough to mess around with trying something new. Maybe that is what the campaign is about-stick with what you know, stay in your comfort zone.

  11. Children of the ’90s? I guess they’re saying “here’s your entire childhood, gen X/Y”, not “here’s the 90s”… because this ad liberally mixes up pop culture from the late ’70s, the ’80s, and the early ’90s.

    1.  They’re trying to make us old guys feel young. C’mon! Walkmans? I got my first portable CD player in the 90’s. i had a walkman in the 80´s. and pogs are really late 90’s they were still popular in 2000

  12. Yet another data point for the truism that if you have to advertise it, it can’t be any good on its own merits.

  13. POGS. Oh my god, Trolls! And there’s Hungry Hungry Hippos! Aww, all my buddies showed up in this video to party, and then Internet Explorer walked into the room and farted :(

  14. “Hi! I’m that bully from high school who used to beat you up and steal your stuff… now I’m back and I wanna be friends. Pleeeease?”

  15. I grew up in the 90’s (b. 1986) and while I remember all of this stuff, none of it is nostalgic. I was a weird kid, granted – but there are a lot of things from the 90’s that have some nostalgia value to me, and they managed to miss all of them. 

    Funnily enough, many 90’s Microsoft products would make my list of things that make me feel nostalgic, bad as they were!

    Another observation though – lots of people are pointing out that they’re sort of mixing up 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s stuff. The thing is that I remember all of this stuff – including the old-school Apple – from the 90’s. It was a time of rapid technological progress, but it was unevenly distributed… but not really in the Gibsonian way, even. 

    We used Apple IIs (with the Oregon Trail featured here) alongside more modern computers (with the next-gen but still old school Oregon Trail, the one they should have used here really) in school – things like that weren’t tossed out and replaced immediately. I had a cassette walkman, too (my dad continued to use them until he got a smartphone last year… and he might still use them, actually, for all I know). And Hungry Hungry Hippos was quite popular for a couple of years, as I recall. 

    I’m obviously not the target audience – I didn’t go in for the popular or cool stuff in the 90’s, I knew better even then (and I did use Microsoft stuff, which was never cool, until the early 2000s). I also know better now.

  16. That commercial was totally lame. So what if your browser changed? It still propagates content in counter-intuitive ways.

    If Microsoft wants to make me nostalgic, revive Netscape Navigator.

  17.  Does this mean that I am now officially old? Seriously though, IE is still dreadful. Besides, the big browser was Netscape Navigator and was the one used on May 18th, 1995 when I first used that thing called the Internet.

  18. Am I the only one to notice the small glitch between IE icons? As in, when the icon shrinks to go to tablet size… it kind of stutters at the end.

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