The Luncher

The Luncher had been to a lot of press launches that had made him angry but this one form Microsoft had made him feel positively sick.

For once, Bill Gates couldn't take the flak though. No, it was the raw fish to be gleaned at Yo! Sushi, the Japanese restaurant Microsoft used for the launch of Back Office for Small Office, or whatever it's called. "Don't blame the chef!", The Luncher kindly offered. "It's just that that stuff doesn't agree with me so well."

Still, a lot of people looked pretty happy to be there. Elonex marketing whizz Demetre Cheras was in fine form, as was Compaq's workstation-meister Hugh Jenkins.

"What's the goss, boss?" everybody was asking.

"Well, you know Nick Eades is leaving IBM for Dell of course," The Luncher said, while mulling a nicely symmetrical career that now runs IBM-AST-IBM-Dell. "And of course, Ian Peel is skipping out of Big Blue too."

What about the rumour that has IBM PC Co. UK boss Mike Lunch going back to Tosh now the Japanese are getting ready to add servers to desktop and portables lines?

"Just mischief making... Lunch is too big a man to walk away from a job half-done," said The Luncher.

"Those two are related, natch," sneered a rival scooper.

Who's going to be the new Apple boss? The weird but wonderful rumour is Intuit chief Bill Campbell who was recently given a seat on the Big Bite board. Surely not... The Luncher's hunch - follow DH Lawrence's dictum 'Never trust the artist, trust the tale' and believe that whatever he's saying now, Jobs can't resist this fight.

Speaking of Jobs, how serious is this spat with Michael Dell? Remember how Dell said if he had Apple he would split up the pieces and sell it off, then Jobs said he was "coming to get" Dell?

"Smoke and mirrors," said The Luncher. "Jobs may be spoiling for a fight but Dell is the mildest of the mild-mannered. He's not putting the gloves on for nobody."

It was late on Friday and Nancy the barmaid was calling last orders.

"Anyhow, got to run," yawned The Luncher. "Up early for my flight to Vegas for Comdex. Got to get by beauty sleep if I'm going to catch Toshiba's servers, Microsoft's 'Hydra' Citrix-based NT application server, Iomega's n.hand cute stamp-sized memory cards (and BB King party), Cirrus's new graphics chips, Windows CE 2.0 handhelds, Seagate/Quinta's hard drive breakthrough, Intel celebrating the 25th anniversary of the microprocessor, the Geofox One e-mail appliance, and new Canon cameras and scanners."

The Luncher's Sleaze and Corruption chart - recent freebies received at ZDNet

(previous week's position in brackets)

1. (-) ZDNet: Biggest Toblerone in the world (9.9-pound worth of chocolate)

2. (-) Microsoft: BackOffice laptop bag, mouse mat, free newspaper (the second best of poor week)

3. (1) MSN: Rugby shirt, clear plastic A4 ring binder (nice black and white top, shame about the logo)

4. (2) Cyrix: Polo shirt, mug (functional)

5. (3) NetManage: T-shirt (nice duster) Fujitsu Fun Pack (squeaks, looks cute)

6. (4) Gamespot: Stacks of champagne and pizza (lovely)

7. (5) Canon: Trip to Rome for Italy versus England game (inc. non-violence seat)

8. (6) Xerox: Trip to New York (inc. soothing Body Shop foot massage lotion and eye gel)

9. (7) Philips: Genie, world's smallest GSM phone (still awaiting receipt, included Egyptian themed party with belly dancer)

10. (8) Toshiba: Dinner and football for Chelsea v Blackburn (great food, terrible game, risible Vialli)

11. (9) Hewlett-Packard: Tix for Spurs v Leeds (inc. pre- and post-match drinks, four-course lunch)

12. (10) Fujitsu: Trip to Sweden, Finland (inc. overnight stay on luxury liner, vodka and crackers gift)

13. (10) Lotus: Invite to Monte Carlo (inc. 3-day trip, 5-star hotel, sorry

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