What we miss about old-skool Windows

Microsoft’s Windows 8 is a the clean operating system that lets you get stuff done, but we’ll always miss Windows 98.

Summer’s here and that means students across the country are returning home to the safety of Mum and Dad for the holidays.

So remember way back, before you were a fresher, before A Levels, probably even before you could spell GCSE.

If you were in school in the 90s, you’ll recognise this little fella.


Clippy, the Microsoft Office Assistant, was there to help you check your spelling in Year Four. He was there to help you format a letter in Year Five. And in Year Six, you realised you could make him do a little spin and jump on the spot.

But sadly, Clippy is long gone. In fact, it’ll soon be ten years since Bill Gates killed him off. In his place is the swisher, smoother Word 2013.


Surely the standard-bearer for old-skool Windows products, Clippy lives on through Twitter and the blogosphere. But what about the other Windows 98 favourites no longer with us today?

MSN Messenger


Top of the chart is MSN Messenger, the tweenager’s communication method of choice. The fun we had winking at, nudging and asking each other strip off on webcam was rivalled only by a heavy Sims session after you’d worked out the cheats.

There were the smileys:


The bizarre usernames:



The abbreviations:


And the conversations they lead to:


And does everyone remember adding everyone on their contact list to a conversation, then leaving it immediately?

In 2011, Microsoft bought Skype and Windows Live Messenger (MSN’s younger cousin) was retired. Gap years might have converted us to Skype way before MSN’s demise, but a small part of The Tab died when we found out Messenger was no more.


Skype on Windows 8…a leap forward from MSN



Everyone had a Hotmail account. It was the passport to internet freedom, buying you access to the joys of MSN.

It was all about the address. Those few words before the @ that allowed you to express your teenage self. [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] Nothing like today’s firstname.lastname convention.

Things have moved on a bit since then. Microsoft’s Outlook replaced Hotmail in March this year and did to Hotmail what Skype did to MSN Messenger.

Gone is the spam we built up over a decade of signing up to random websites. Gone is the jam-packed, 50 messages to a page interface. The new service cuts out the rubbish and helps you keep your inbox clean. It’s not bad to look at either.




Was anyone ever any good at this? The Tab’s strategy was always to click all four corners, then plant flags just about everywhere else. Let’s be honest, the ‘reveal’ button was the key to success.

Minesweepers, Solitaire and all those other games you never really understood live on in Windows 8. They’ve moved to the Xbox Games app and now come in full-screen mode, so you can really get stuck into the procrastination.

And when the bombs go off in Windows 8 Minesweeper, rather than a yellow sad face with crossed out eyes, Microsoft presents you with a message: “It happens to everybody”.


Head to Facebook to join Windows Access All Areas, a student community that gives you the inside info on all things Windows 8 whilst giving away some awesome free stuff along the way. Access All Areas