Remembering Microsoft’s Horrible Windows Vista–Themed Bruce Springsteen Parody Video

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Photo: Peter Still/Redferns/Getty Images

Across the country today, classic-rock fans are cracking open Bruce Springsteen’s much-anticipated autobiography, Born to Run. Across its pages, Springsteen recounts his humble coming-of-age in New Jersey, his catapulting to fame, selling out stadiums, and experiencing all that a rocker’s life has to offer. One thing he does not address, however, is this absolutely terrible Bruce Springsteen parody for Windows Vista.

“Rockin’ Our Sales,” by Bruce ServicePack and the Vista Street Band, is just barely a competent aping of Springsteen, a hellish alternate version of the “Dancing in the Dark” video, in which the Boss sings about monitoring employee laptop activity using the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. If you are the kind of person who goes nuts for diagnostic and recovery tool sets, this is your jam.

(Yes, that is supposed to be Microsoft-brand Courteney Cox.)

At the time that the video was leaked, in the spring of 2008, it was widely ridiculed. And rightfully so! Todd Bishop of seattlepi.com wrote, “I was initially thinking that it might have been concocted by one of Microsoft’s competitors, as a spoof poking fun at the company.” Apple fanboy-in-chief, Jon Gruber, said that “[i]t epitomizes Microsoft’s culture and institutional bad taste.”

It was initially thought that this was external marketing for Windows Vista, the disastrous follow-up to Windows XP that struggled from day one. And given how terrible Vista was, the idea that they’d send a three-minute bootleg Springsteen song to their enterprise customers is a theory that can easily be justified.

Horrible tech music parodies are more common than you might expect. At the end of 2014, venture-capital firm First Round Capital forced all of their investments to perform in a parody video about Silicon Valley. In 2012, seeking to assuage third-party developer fears, BlackBerry released a video called “Devs, BlackBerry Is Going To Continue Loving You,” featuring executives parodying REO Speedwagon (sample lyric: “And we’re gonna keep on loving you/Our updated SDK is really cool”). Orchestrating an intern flash mob at the company’s all-hands meeting is apparently a tradition at LinkedIn.

At the time, others thought that the Bruce ServicePack video was a spoof made outside of Microsoft, though the appearance of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner toward the end of the video makes that unlikely.

The real answer, according to a statement given to the Register at the time, was that it was an internal video made as a joke.

“This video was developed by us as a way to poke fun at ourselves a bit. We thought folks internally would get a kick out of not taking themselves so seriously all the time.

“As a result, this little gem came to life and has caused quite a few laughs in our hallways. It is no way a serious attempt at marketing Windows to external audiences and was developed for internal consumption only.”

Once you know that it’s an internal goof, the video is kind of charming, in a way. It is also, at the same time, horrifying to watch bizarro Springsteen and Little Steven sweating in a basement dungeon as they perform for their tech masters.