Wednesday’s “worst version of Windows” column for Yahoo Tech was a fun stumble down memory lane, and not just because it allowed me to re-read reviews of Windows Me and Windows XP: I also got to dig out some of my semi-treasured collection of software CDs.
I started collecting them once I had a desk of my own at the Post, and these things soon became a core part of my cubicle decor there. Beyond the Windows CDs you saw in the photo atop that column, I have:
- a BeOS CD that I then tried out on my Mac clone and thought was a revelation compared to the Mac OS of 1997;
- a CD for the Snap online service CNet launched with EarthLink in 1997, and which I’m sure nobody else remembers today;
- a system CD from the Power Mac Cube I reviewed for the Post;
- a rectangular CD for Windows Media Player 7 that was supposed to portray that awful music app’s interface, and which would be unusable on any computer with a slot-loading optical drive;
- a CD of Insignia Software’s SoftWindows, an emulation app that shipped for the first Power Macs.
These obscurities don’t function as any sort of decor now that they’re stashed in an interoffice envelope. But they do help remind me of where the industry’s come (remember when the only way the Mac was going to survive is if you could run Windows programs miserably slowly on it?) and of reviews that I perhaps could have done better.
And they’re also a type of keepsake that’s been rendered obsolete by the online delivery of almost all software. What am I going to do, take a screengrab of the .zip file that contained my beta download of Windows 10?