It's early. It's Friday morning. Microsoft wants to tell us about Vista and Office 2007, and the company has turned up mob-handed to show us the latest.
The details of the software can wait for another day — as if the darn stuff isn't being religiously over-reported already — but the meeting is fun for other reasons. It used to be the case that you were getting old when the policemen started to look young. Now, Father Time makes his presence felt by sending a Microsoftie who looks like the lead singer from Kaiser Ferdinand or whoever it is the kids currently cut their rugs to these days. He's even got a rawk-n-roll name, Darren 'Strangely' Strange, and from hints we gather during the presentation he may also go by the name Office Rocker (geddit?).Whether he's quite this Strange, we do not know.
We learn other details of life inside Microsoft. Internal pre-beta releases of software are called Dogfood — after the unlovely marketing phrase "eat your own dogfood", meaning to use the stuff you're foisting on others. "I've had nothing but dogfood for years," said Strangely Strange. "I've forgotten what real food tastes like." If you start to use Vista for any length of time, "you start to hate XP" apparently, and OpenOffice is best considered as an alternative to Microsoft Works "because it's only fair to compare stuff at the same sort of price point".
They're also still having problems with names. PowerPoint in Office 2007 has sprouted yet more features — one of which is some sort of wizard to help pick the bling, called SmartArt. We did suggest that nobody loves a SmartArt, but the chances of anyone being able to explain that to Redmond probably approaches zero, in the same way that Microsoft still seems gloriously unaware of the alternative possibilities of calling its support system OneCare.
We may have identified the manager of the British OneCare, should the service make its way across the channel. Stand up and give a big hand to Jason Landridge, Microsoft's Mr Mobile. He was at Palm's launch of its new Treo this week in London, and lost no time in showing how its Windows Mobile magic connected up to Exchange for push email. In front of an audience of hundreds, he synced up and sent himself an email that laid bare his passion for all to see.
It said "I love my Palm!".
Thank you, Jason.