Jane Wakefield: Get real Bill, you're not cool

Jane Wakefield has a look through the week's news and spots Bill trying his darnedest to look like a man in the know...

A little quiz for you first (er, it helps if you're about 25-35). What does this little ditty remind you of? Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, that's..?

If you answered Martini, the sophisticated cocktail beloved of James Bond, you would be wrong because the song now belongs to Microsoft.

Yes Bill Gates has taken up the refrain of Martini drinkers of the 70s and made it his very own 90s catchphrase. Microsoft executives have been slinging the phrase around a lot at Telecom 99 as the software giant embraces the wireless world. Microsoft is after a large piece of the action -- shaken not stirred.

If it's mobile, Microsoft wants it. In fact Bill wants his software empire on any device he can get his hands on. But just as Microsoft played ghoul at the feast for the first few years of the Internet party, so it is a tad late to the wireless party. But I guess when you are as powerful as Bill Gates turning up a few years late is forgivable.

While it used to be PCs and PCs only that Microsoft focused on, now it is phones, organisers and gadgets galore -- Microsoft is jumping into the wireless bed like the most enthusiastic of infants.

The system that will support the all singing, all dancing mobile Microsoft is Windows CE, the ickle brother to Windows. Despite an awful lot of plugging from marketing men claiming it is doing very well alongside Psion and Palm, the rest of the industry does not seem to agree. LG and Philips dumped Windows CE in recent months and this week the OS suffered another blow when arch-rivals Psion and 3Com made friends and decided to share technologies. Microsoft immediately hit back , claiming it did not need small-fry friends like Psion and 3Com coz its new best buddy was BT and together they were going to make mobile devices better than anyone. So nah nah ne nah nah.

For all its bravado, Microsoft's claims sounded a little hollow. Perhaps this time, coming late to the party will not be forgiven and Bill Gates could find himself going home without a piece of cake or a balloon.

To give Microsoft its due, it is not just other people's parties it is late for. It also has difficulty getting to its own on time. As the timetable for Windows 2000 slips again -- this time to February next year -- it looks as if Microsoft's millennium champagne will be decidedly flat come party time.

While the mobile world united in Geneva to discuss the exciting mobile future -- where we will all be rushing around ordering pizza and cinema tickets "on the fly" (which is perhaps my least favourite marketing phrase of the decade), two industry giants were trying to persuade us to stay at home.

Empire-builder Rupert Murdoch launched Open , the next thread in his Interactive digital TV web. From the comfort of an armchair, Open subscribers will be able to shop online from cutting-edge high-street emporiums like Woolworths, Iceland and Argos. Now these are possibly the three shops I would avoid on an average trip down the high-street so the thought of shopping in them from home is, frankly, unappealing. But I am sure that the great telly-watching public will not agree. Shopping, banking and email through the TV is, so far, something of an unknown and people wait to see if the public will embrace it. Judging by the success of the Shopping Channel, I am sure it will be a huge success. It would appear, there is nothing too tacky or crap that the great British public will not buy and the fact they don't even have to get off their arses seems to make it even more appealing.

Another armchair launch this week was the long-awaited arrival of Sega's Dreamcast . Gamers queued for hours to get their hands on the new console, to rush home and stay in their bedrooms for the next decade or two. One gamer , who favours arch-rival Sony's Playstation, will not be going anywhere for a while, having murdered his next-door neighbour. The murderer thought his neighbour had stolen his beloved console and killed him for it.

I'll keep my mouth shut shall I...

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