At midnight tonight, the Xbox is finally launched in Europe. Some of us -- well, me -- aren't invited to the launch party, and have to console (sorry) ourselves by flitting from radio station to TV studio broadcasting our usual warnings about Microsoft to the nation. Others are more lucky, and receive the coveted piece of card saying "turn up at the Virgin Megastore at 7:30 and get to drink, play and generally lord it over the plebs who won't be allowed in until 10:30."
Right, thought our fortunate pals -- who, being footy mad, decide to get there bang on time so they can also fit in watching some sort of match that's going on at the same time.
Alas, while Microsoft may indeed be able to cook up a mean gaming machine and write fantastic software, it seems unable to put the two together. The company had a database of those invited -- fair enough -- and mere possession of the invite wasn't enough, you had to be checked off against the list. No problem -- even a simple database application would do that in seconds. Which is why Microsoft decided to print out the names on enormous great piles of paper, ensuring that it took ages to let anyone in and leaving our chums in the queue for nearly an hour. During which they were rudely heckled from a nearby pub with chants of "Get a life, get a life, get a life", as the drunken denizens assumed that the queue was for people waiting to buy an Xbox at midnight.
Once in, all was fine -- although the pale green cocktails transmuted into pale green hangovers for some the morning after. Our pals, more sober by nature, contented themselves with beer and mourning the loss of half the football.
It's a hard life, eh?