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Windows 95 “Start Me Up” commercial

In the early ’90s Microsoft surveyed people on what they didn’t like about Windows 3.1. The most common answer was “Everything”, but more specifically a large percentage said they “Just didn’t know where to start.” So, they came up with the Start menu to give those people a leg up. They also licensed the Rolling Stones’ anthem Start Me Up for their ad campaign. That’s right… Windows 95 could make a make a grown man cry.

So what did Microsoft really pay The Rolling Stones to use “Start Me Up” as the soundtrack for the advertising campaign that launched Windows 95?

Rumors over the years have pegged the price at anywhere between $8 million and $14 million, although that range has been dismissed as way too high by those supposedly in the know. Now retired Microsoft chief operating officer Bob Herbold has set the record straight in an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal posted on TechFlash.

Since I was ever-so-slightly irritated by being forced to listen to an audio clip that accompanies the story to get the answer, I won’t make you do the same: Microsoft paid Mick and the boys about $3 million, according to Herbold.