I was recently reading about Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn) and found something interesting as I dug. Vista was announced in 2002 with a ship date of sometime in 2003. Then it was 2004, then early 2005, then late 2005, then late 2006, and now there's rumors of 2007. I'm sitting here typing this on my Windows XP laptop (XP released – 2001) and this is absolutely stunning. People must be getting bored with the repeated delays, feature cuts, etc, and Microsoft is going to need something big to drive interest and get people excited… so here's my idea:
Release the source code to Windows 95.
Yes, I know it's 10+ years old, but that's not the point. You'd have geeks all over the world talking, playing, breaking, fixing, doing all kinds of creative things, and saying things like “oh, that's nifty”.
To the best of my knowledge, they are deriving zero value from it, so the revenue loss is negligible. They might get mocked for the quality or architecture of portions of the codebase, but Bill and Crew have been mocked for years. There is some risk as there seem to be quite a few Win95 installs still lurking around, but according to the EULA, any errors are not their fault anyway.
Bill – since I know you're reading this – what do you have to lose? Sure, we might see comments like “Netscape engineers are weenies” and screwy errors that should have been caught in testing but some of us will find the cause of those errors and fix them. Besides, the press you'll get – in and out of the tech community – would be stunning.
If you ever want to mock Steven Jobs by showing him an iPod running Windows, this is the way to do it.