On January 30th, 2007 Microsoft released their much-delayed successor to Windows XP, Windows Vista. It released with far too many editions, which Microsoft slowly whittled down to just a few over the years leading up to the release of Windows 10.
One of the lesser known editions that Microsoft released was Windows Vista Ultimate Signature Edition. This was unique among the special signed / event orientated releases of Windows in that it was commercially available for anyone to purchase rather than being limited to handouts at the launch event. It was available in the US and cost $10 more than the regular Ultimate edition, getting you exactly $0 worth of additional stuff, unless you really like boxes with a print of Bill Gates’ signature on them.
This was limited to 25,000 copies, and, like the Windows 95 Special Edition, only got you an upgrade license of Windows Vista – not even a full license! Like the Windows 95 Special Edition there is a printed note from Bill Gates on the inside cover of the box that reads:
I’ve always been inspired by the limitless potential of technology. And I believe that its definition is never fixed, but instead is an ongoing collaboration among technical professionals and enthusiasts – a group of people who are inspired by the challenge of testing the limits of technology, redefining its boundaries, and setting new standards for innovation and progress. At Microsoft, we feel very fortunate to be a part of this effort. And so, as thanks, we hope you will enjoy this Signature Edition of Windows Vista Ultimate. It represents both our best work and our vision of what the future might hold.
This wasn’t the only special edition of Windows Vista that Microsoft released. They also released a (PRODUCT) RED edition in support of raising awareness and helping to eliminate AIDS in Africa. This was originally a Dell exclusive that only shipped with certain Dell PCs but got its own boxed release that was available from December 15th, 2008. This edition came with some additional desktop wallpapers, a screensaver, two Sidebar gadgets and a DreamScene wallpaper (remember those things?)
On August 24th, 1995 Microsoft hosted a Windows 95 launch event at their campus in Redmond, Washington. At this event journalists and other attendees were gifted a copy of Windows 95 in a special commemorative box: Windows 95 Special Edition.
Only 3,000 copies were handed out making this a fairly rare item to have (especially now, 22 years later).
The inside cover opens up and inside the following text can be found:
In the box you get a CD copy of Windows 95 – upgrade! Apparently, Microsoft couldn’t bring themselves to give away free copies with a full license. You also get the owner’s manual, a leaflet introducing you to The Microsoft Network and a little Launch95: Introducing the world of Windows 95 insert.
And that’s it! The copy of Windows 95 is no different to the version you could buy in the shops, so the only thing about that this is special is the box.
On October 22nd 2009 Microsoft launched Windows 7 and one of their ideas to promote it was to ask some of their, uh, more loyal fans to host a launch party. People signed up and those who where selected received a party pack in the mail. I happen to have one of those party packs, so let’s have a look at what you got for your rad Windows party:
The box it all came in (sadly mine is a bit battered)
Opening the box
A deck of playing cards
Ten gift bags
A table top piece
A pack of napkins
A copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (dubbed Signature Edition as it has a print of Steve Ballmer’s signature on it)
It seems all of the items were designed to show off some of the wacky strange creatures art that was included as wallpapers in Windows 7.
The gift bags
The deck of cards
The tabletop piece
Personally I think the poster and gift bags are really quite nice! People in the US who received this pack also got some balloons, some streamers and some coupons and offers for other products like Kaspersky AV and Zune.
Of course the most exciting reason to receive this party pack was the free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate you got which comes in a nice sleeve with Steve Ballmer’s signature printed on it.
Windows 7 Signature Edition front
Windows 7 Signature Edition back
Windows 7 Signature Edition inside
Windows 7 Signature Edition disks
Inside was a full retail edition of Windows 7 Ultimate and both 32bit and 64bit installer disks. There’s nothing special about the version of Windows, it’s just plain old Windows 7 Ultimate. The only special thing is the sleeve it comes in.