Microsoft Windows 9x

From Audiovisual Identity Database

For other uses, see Microsoft Windows (disambiguation).

Microsoft Chicago (early Windows 95 beta builds)

(August 9, 1993-September 10, 1994)

Codename: "Chicago"

Background: Microsoft Chicago is the development codename for Windows 95. This operating system introduced one of the most iconic desktop interface designs, including the introduction of the Start menu (created by Danny Oran), which allows easier access to desktop applications and settings. This UI is still used in current Windows builds.

Screen: On a black background, we see the text "CHICAGO", in a bold font, with a shining light next to the "G". Above it is "Microsoft", in purple above "CHICAGO" and below it is the release type (preliminary and beta) and date (August/November 1993, May/September 1994). We see the Windows logo dancing around the text in random places, colorized in the same pattern as the Windows logo would usually go (blue, yellow, green and red) in each move.

Trivia: The sunlight image is not transparent, which becomes obvious whenever the Windows logo hits the light.


  • When your computer is fully shut down, the light on the "G" is replaced with a sparkling crescent moon with a blue mist and the release tag is replaced with "You can now safely turn off your computer. If you want to restart your computer, press CTRL+ ALT+DEL."
  • Sometimes, the release tag only contains the date of the release.
  • During setup, the release tag is replaced with "Please wait while Setup updates your configuration files. This may take a few minutes."
  • When your computer is shutting down, the release tag is replaced with: "Please wait while your computer is shutting down."

Technique: Computer-generated 2D animation.


  • Startup: The same "tada.wav" sound from Windows 3.1.
  • Shutdown: Same as startup.

Availability: Extinct. Originally only in the hands of people given the operating system by Microsoft to test out, but copies have leaked to the beta community.

Windows 95

1st Screen (September 21, 1994-February 8, 1995)

Background: Starting in September 1994, Microsoft Chicago was renamed to Microsoft Windows 95.

Screen: Same as the Microsoft Chicago bootscreen, but the "CHICAGO" text is replaced with "Windows 95", written in Futura. The texture of the text is a cloud background. This time the Windows flag is omitted.


  • Sometimes, just the build's name is used.
  • The shutdown and safe to turn off computer screen is the same as Microsoft Chicago, but the Windows 95 logo at the time was used.
  • In a later revision of the shutdown screen, the red "Please wait while Windows is shutting down" text was modified to correct a problem with its width and also have its font changed from Arial to Futura.


  • Startup: Same as Microsoft Chicago.
  • Shutdown: Same as Microsoft Chicago.

Availability: Extinct. Seen on Windows 95 builds until February 1995.

2nd Screen (February 15, 1995-December 31, 2000 (mainstream support), December 31, 2001 (extended support))

Background: Windows 95 was the first version of Windows to introduce features such as the Start button and the task, which are still included to this day, and additionally introduced a major graphical overhaul that still persists in modern Windows versions to this day.

Screen: On a background with a blue , partly cloudy sky, we see the Windows logo from before, this time tilted down to the right and the inner panels being slightly transparent, in the center of the screen above the logo for the operating system, which consists of the name "Microsoft", in white and above and on the left side of the operating system's name, which is "Windows", in black, next to "95", in white. In the top-right corner of the screen is Microsoft's logo of the time, in black, and at the bottom of the screen is a loading bar that consists of a white bar with a blue gradient segment that scrolls from left to right as the operating system loads.


  • On the first couple of months of the screen's use, the logo had a slightly different design (with the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th block in the first segmented column being in the same color as the window pane next to them).
  • In Build 337, the logo has a thick, black border, red clockwise arrows can be seen lighting up all the way.
  • Earlier versions had a gray rectangle under the logo with a small Windows logo in the left corner, blue counterclockwise triangles can be seen lighting up all the way to the small flag. The April Test Release would give it a gray gradient.
  • In Build 405, the logo had a thin, color-shifting border.
  • Starting with the May Test Release, the gray rectangle was removed, the Windows logo is now smaller, and the name below it was made slightly bigger.
  • Some variants have the then-current Microsoft logo in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • On versions with the Internet Explorer application (in addition to the Microsoft logo), the words "Microsoft Internet Explorer" are underneath the Windows 95 logo.
  • When Microsoft Plus is installed on Windows 95, the words "Microsoft PLus!" are seen under the name with "PLus!" arranged in the same way as seen on the box and in the software itself.
    • Beta builds had the "Microsoft" duplicate and the Microsoft Plus! logo shifted upwards. The different sky from the shutdown variant is used in place of the regular one for unknown reasons. Earlier builds, however, used the gray rectangle beta variant with no Microsoft Plus! indicator whatsoever.
    • When Microsoft Plus! 95 is installed on Windows 95 OSR 2.5, the Microsoft logo is omitted.
  • Whenever shutting down or restarting, the Windows logo is replaced by orange text reading: "Please wait while your computer shuts down"; earlier release candidate builds of Windows 95 had it rendered in Franklin Gothic while the RTM version used a variation of said font that has the Ws curved.
  • On Japanese NEC computers, the Windows logo is more two-dimensional and saturated, and there's no shadow. The blue NEC logo is seen on the top-left corner.

Technique: 2D animation.


  • Original Version:
    • Startup:
      • Before April Test Release (build 445): Same as Microsoft Chicago.
      • April Test Release (build 445) and onward: Starts with a short, synthesized bell tune made up of two notes and a quick series of ascending notes before playing a light five-note piano tune accompanied by soft strings.
    • Shutdown: The same "tada.wav" used by Windows 3.1x.
  • Microsoft Plus Systems:
    • For All:
      • Default:
        • Startup: Same as original.
        • Shutdown: Same as original.
      • More Windows/Windows 95:
        • Startup: Same as default.
        • Shutdown: A muffled three-note organ/synth tune. The last note is held in longer than the other notes.
      • Dangerous Creatures:
        • Startup: A very fitting jungle-esque tune, complete with nature sounds, a wolf howling, and timpani beats.
        • Shutdown: Same as startup.
      • Inside Your Computer:
        • Startup: A synth-piano tune.
        • Shutdown: Sounds similar to a computer having a technical failure.
      • Jungle:
        • Startup: Nature sounds.
        • Shutdown: A stock sound of a roaring jaguar (the same one heard in the Debmar Studios logo).
      • Leonardo da Vinci:
        • Startup: A 3-note harpsichord tune.
        • Shutdown: Same as startup.
      • Musica:
        • Startup: A 6-note xylophone ditty. Would actually be fitting for a TV vanity card.
        • Shutdown: A descending 4-note guitar tune.
      • Mystery:
        • Startup: Thunder and rain sounds, a crow cawing, and a portion of the default Windows 95 startup sound.
        • Shutdown: Wind sounds.
      • Nature:
        • Startup: What you'd expect from a beach; the sounds of seagulls and the shore.
        • Shutdown: Crickets chirping.
      • Robotz:
        • Startup: A synth pad.
        • Shutdown: A 2-note synth drone.
      • Science:
        • Startup: A zapping sound.
        • Shutdown: An intentionally weird sound.
      • Sports:
        • Startup: A crowd roaring with a trumpet playing in the background.
        • Shutdown: Might be a car passing by.
      • The 60's USA:
        • Startup: A reverse piano tune with a man counting down: "3, 2, 1".
        • Shutdown: An electric guitar note.
      • The Golden Era:
        • Startup: A sound similar to a gong.
        • Shutdown: It's all jumbled up and difficult to describe.
      • Travel:
        • Startup: A man shouting "All aboard!" (oddly cut off making us only hear "board"), then the sound of a train's whistle blowing.
        • Shutdown: A train chugging its way through tracks.
      • Utopia:
        • Startup: A 5-note xylophone tune with a synth in the background.
        • Shutdown: A fast synth-piano tune and the sound of a child laughing, all in reverse.
    • For Kids:
      • Bugs:
        • Startup: Crickets chirping.
        • Shutdown: A lower toned cricket chirp.
      • Horses:
        • Startup: A horse neighing.
        • Shutdown: A horse running away.
      • Messy Room:
        • Startup: A falling sound (a tone descending in pitch), then an explosion.
        • Shutdown: A door creaking then slamming shut.
      • RE-Man:
        • Startup: A synth raising in volume, with helicopter blades in the background. A child says, "Oh, look!". Another one says "RE-Man!". Other children gasp in awe. Then another synth plays, this time with a noise that sounds like reverberated water drops.
        • Shutdown: The second synth from the startup, with the sound of a police siren.
      • Snowboarding:
        • Startup: An electric guitar note being held while descending in pitch.
        • Shutdown: A horn.
      • Tree House:
        • Startup: Eagle sounds accompanied with a cricket chirp.
        • Shutdown: A door opening.
      • Underwater:
        • Startup: Dolphins, and water sounds.
        • Shutdown: More water sounds, but rather deeper.

Startup Sound (Music/Sounds) Trivia:

  • The default startup sound was composed by British composer and producer Brian Eno and is also known as "The Microsoft Sound". Eno was told by Microsoft to make it no longer than 3.8 seconds long.
  • Much of the sounds included on Windows 95 have been implemented in other platforms, embedded systems, software packages, and/or video projects. For example, the Los Angeles Metro kiosks use the same "ding" sound included in Windows 95.

Availability: Very rare, as of today. Only on computers running on Windows 95.

Microsoft Memphis (early Windows 98 beta builds)

(December 13, 1996-September 4, 1997)

Codename: "Memphis"

Screen: On a black background, we see an oval that contains a sky similar to the 3rd Windows 95 splash. Set against the sky is the then-current Windows flag, and below it are the words "Microsoft Memphis" (structured similarly to the 3rd Windows 95 splash, "Memphis" in black and set in the Franklin Gothic font and "Microsoft" in a thinner version of said font (this time in black) and at the upper left of "Memphis"). At the bottom right of the text is a byline.

Bylines: Here are all of the possible bylines for this splash:

  • "Developer Release"
  • "Beta [number]"


  • Like the Windows 95 splash, this one went through various changes during its lifespan.
    • Prior to build 1488, the oval was wider.
    • Build 1351 had a white background instead of a black one and the byline was set in a serif font.
    • The loading animation had one major change.
      • Prior to build 1525, the loading animation consisted of the black panels and frame from the Windows flag changing colors from black to light blue.
      • In build 1525, the loading animation was changed to the gray bar from the 3rd Windows 95 splash, albeit anti-aliased. To accommodate the change, the Windows flag was changed to the semi-3D rendition from said splash.
      • Starting with build 1546, "Memphis" was replaced with "Windows" and "98" (slightly spaced out and set in a thin version of Franklin Gothic, similarly to the "Microsoft" text) is added next to it.
  • When your computer is shutting down, either one of these screens will appear:
    • For build 1351, the oval is shrunken down a little to make room for the orange words "Please wait while your computer shuts down.".
    • For build 1488, the orange words "Memphis is shutting down." are added below the oval.

Technique: 2D animation.


  • Startup: Same as Windows 95.
  • Shutdown: Same as Windows 95.

Availability: Extinct. Only seen on builds 1351-1581 of Windows 98.

Windows 98

(September 22, 1997-February 11, 2004 (end of production), July 11, 2006 (extended support))

Screen: It’s the same concept as Windows 95, but the sky background is different and the Windows logo has more of a 3D depth to it, plus a white glow. The white "95" is changed to a black "98". "Microsoft" is also black now.

Trivia: On the Dell variant, Dell simply pasted their text and logo onto the raw source of the logo, which is a file called logo.sys. However, logo.sys is stored with a horizontal squish and Dell pasted the normal text onto the squished raw version, so the text and Dell logo looks stretched out when it is displayed normally.


  • When Microsoft Plus is installed on Windows 98, "98" is in two different colors ("9" is colored green, and "8" is orange) and "PLus!" (arranged the same as seen on the box, in the software itself, and the Windows 95 "Plus" variant) is seen above "98".
  • When the computer is shutting down or restarting, it shows any of the above variants with the blue words below the name saying "Windows is shutting down".
  • During Windows 98 setup, after the first restart there are additional blue words underneath that say "Getting ready to run Windows for the first time". This no longer appears after subsequent startups.
  • On some Dell computers of the era, Dell added the words "Distributed By:" and the Dell logo to the upper left hand corner.
  • The first appearances of this logo were in the Windows 98 beta era. On Beta 2.1 (of which 1619 is the most known build), there is a noticeable red glow behind the left red part of the Windows flag. In addition to this, a segmented line composed of short orange, yellow, and green segments and one long blue segment is seen to the right of the flag. On top of this line, "Beta 2.1" appears. Underneath the Windows 98 text, "Microsoft Internet Explorer" appears just as in Windows 95. Beta 3 (of which 1681 is the most known build) is the same, except without the red glow, the added segmented line having equal segment lengths, and the text changed to read "Beta 3".

Technique: 2D animation.


  • Original Version:
    • Startup:
      • Build 1593: Same as the 3rd Windows 95 splash.
      • Builds 1602-1666: A single, continuous synth crescendo (meant to convey "the idea of progress"). Composed by Microsoft sound engineer Ken Kato.
      • Builds 1671-2222B: Same as above, albeit in stereo as opposed to mono.
    • Shutdown:
      • Build 1593: Same as the 3rd Windows 95 splash.
      • Builds 1602-1666: Three synth chime notes, followed by a synth pad that gets slightly louder at the end.
      • Builds 1671-2222B: Same as above, albeit shortened and at a higher pitch. Disabled by default.
    • Microsoft Plus! Systems:
      • Default:
        • Startup: Same as original.
        • Shutdown: Same as original.
      • More Windows/Windows 98:
        • Startup: Same as default.
        • Shutdown: Same as Windows 95 Plus!.
      • Windows 98 (high color):
        • Startup: Same as default.
        • Shutdown: The Beta 3 shutdown.
      • Windows Default:
        • Startup: Same as default.
        • Shutdown: A synthesized rendition of the Windows 3.1 "tada.wav" startup.
      • Architecture:
        • Startup: Echoing clicking sounds, followed by a piano tune and a synth. The atmosphere is like that of a factory.
        • Shutdown: A re-rendition of the startup, but shorter and without the piano tune.
      • Baseball:
        • Startup: An organ theme that is very fitting with the theme.
        • Shutdown: A crowd cheering.
      • Corbis Photography:
        • Startup: The sound of an old flash camera starting up, followed by camera shutter sounds. A synth follows.
        • Shutdown: A camera shutting down.
      • Cityscape:
        • Startup: Walking, with digital synths and beeping, as well as a 3-note synth.
        • Shutdown: The same digital beeping and synth, as well as muffled failure sounds.
      • Cathy:
        • Startup: A 2-note synth.
        • Shutdown: A slowed down version of the startup.
      • Doonesbury:
        • Startup: An orchestral hit leading into a single chord, ending with the audience clapping.
        • Shutdown: A cartoonish fail sound (a descending noise).
      • Fashion:
        • Startup: A jazz tune.
        • Shutdown: A different jazz tune.
      • Falling Leaves:
        • Startup: A synth, followed by birds chirping.
        • Shutdown: Another synth, this time with crickets chirping.
      • Fox Trot:
        • Startup: The sound of a car starting up and driving away.
        • Shutdown: A car stopping and powering down.
      • Garfield:
        • Startup: A Garfield-esque tune.
        • Shutdown: A tune made with a piano and drums.
      • Geometry:
        • Startup: Very odd space sounds.
        • Shutdown: Fast synth sounds similar to a trance song.
      • Jazz:
        • Startup: A jazz tune.
        • Shutdown: Another jazz tune this time with a piano ditty.
      • Jungle:
        • Startup: A bird tweeting sound.
        • Shutdown: A cub growling.
      • Photodisc:
        • Startup: A mixture of synths, guitar strings and piano notes, Would be interesting to hear this in a movie logo.
        • Shutdown: A soft organ synth tune.
      • Peanuts:
      • Rock n' Roll:
        • Startup: A guitar riff, which grows into an average rock n' roll tune.
        • Shutdown: Another rock tune.
      • Science Fiction:
        • Startup: A fanfare.
        • Shutdown: A descending synth, resembling the THX Deep Note more and more as it progresses until it suddenly becomes an explosion, a squeal from an alien creature and 2 synth whooshes with rumbling in the background.
      • Space:
        • Startup: Digital beeps.
        • Shutdown: An even more synthesized whoosh.
      • Underwater:
        • Startup: Some sounds, including a dolphin squeak, followed by a water splash.
        • Shutdown: Another water splash. An air swish that can be heard during the splash follows suit.
      • World Traveller:
        • Startup: A sitar tune.
        • Shutdown: A slower sitar tune, followed by a synth.

Availability: Uncommon. Only found on computers running Windows 98. The Dell variant is nearly extinct as it appeared only on Dell computer factory installs of Windows 98.

Windows Millennium Edition (ME)

1st Screen (July 13, 1999-February 1, 2000)

Screen: On a light blue background with a lens flare and a segmented ‘streak’, we see the then-current Windows flag. At the bottom right of it are the words “Microsoft Windows Millennium” (structured similarly to the previous splashes: “Windows” set in the Franklin Gothic font with “Millennium” in the same font and at the bottom right and “Microsoft” set in a thinner version of said font at the top left), and at the bottom right of that is a very rounded rectangle with a byline in white. At the top right corner of the screen is the then-current Microsoft logo and at the bottom is the same gray bar and blue ‘lights’ from the previous screens.

Trivia: This does not appear (except on the first boot) in many early Millennium builds because of the ongoing work to remove real-mode MS-DOS from the Windows architecture. The boot screen is first known to reappear in build 2380.

Bylines: Here are all of the possible bylines for this screen:

  • “BETA [number in letters]”

Later Variants:

  • Starting with build 2380, “code name:” is added to the left of “Millennium”.
  • Starting with build 2404, “code name:” is now in all capitals and without a space (making it read “CODENAME:”) and the rectangle and the byline are omitted.

Technique: Computer-generated 2D animation.


  • Startup: Same as the builds 1671-2222B default startup sound from the 2nd Windows 98 splash.
  • Shutdown: Same as the builds 1671-2222B default shutdown sound from the 2nd Windows 98 splash.

Availability: Extinct. Only seen on builds 2332-2460 of Windows Millennium Edition.

2nd Screen (February 9, 2000-February 11, 2004 (end of production), July 11, 2006 (extended support))

Screen: Similar to Windows 2000, except the progress bar is removed, and the "Windows 2000" is changed to "Windows Me" with the full name of "Me" ("Millennium Edition") stacked word by word under "Me".

Variant: Similar to the Windows 98 setup, during the Windows ME startup, after the first restart there are additional blue words underneath that say "Getting ready to run Windows for the first time". This no longer appears after subsequent startups.

Technique: None.


  • Developer Release until Beta 2 (build 2481): Same as the first and second editions of Windows 98.
  • Beta 3 (build 2513) and onward: Same as Windows 2000.

Availability: Rare. Seen on computers running Windows ME (Millennium Edition), which is a bit hard to find due to its failure, as well as Windows XP being much more common.

Microsoft Windows DOS
Microsoft Windows 9x
Microsoft Windows NT
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