Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 13/10/2006 It's Friday the 13th. What can possibly go wrong?
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Friday 13/10/2006

It's Friday the 13th. What can possibly go wrong?

Oh boy. Where to begin?

We've got a corker of a story/we have it on very good authority that Vista in all its forms, together with Office and Exchange 2007, is due to have a launch on 5 December. In fact, our intrepid reporter Tom got it from the glottis of a Microsoft official at the very firstest of first hands. So, we publish.

Which makes it all the more marvellous that when fellow journalists on other publications phone up Microsoft HQ to confirm the story, it is stoutly denied. No way, they say. No idea what you're talking about. Since we're all in the great liberal media conspiracy together, the journos in question give us a buzz to see how well our story stands up.

"They're denying it!" our hacks-in-arms say. "Good!" we say. "That's another story!"

And indeed, one of Microsoft's multitudinous PRs gets on the blower to us shortly afterwards.

"No, absolutely not," says Weber Shandwick

"So when?"

"We've given a date range, and that's all we're saying."

"So why did a Microsoft executive give us an unambiguous date?"

"Can't say."

How odd. So, we get stuck into one of our internal Microsoft contacts.

It turns out that, oddly, everything is sort of true. Enterprise Vista in November, retail in January. And 5 December? A "launch event" for one particular public-sector segment, and only a tiny part of the rolling festival — if you will, Vistival — that MS has planned for us all. Not all launches are alike, and some live at the wrong end of the stick

This one's not really much of a story after all, so it heads towards the virtual spike. How annoying — almost as annoying as a DVD of Vista RC1 turning up in the post the day after RC2 hits the net.

But one Microsoftie has given us nothing but pleasure. Darren "Strangely" Strange, UK Product Manager for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, previously made me feel desperately old by turning up at our offices and looking like an escapee from the NME. But he's a good sport about some of Microsoft's sillier product names — and continues in that vein in a talkback to the report of our original encounter.

"Cheer up Rupert. For the record I am 35, and my blog link (which you omitted) is http://blogs.msdn.com/officerocker. I agree with you on SmartArt and OneCare but the best Microsoft US brand was the name they gave for their beta cd. There were different kits, the largest of which was intended for lonely developers which in their wisdom they named the 'master beta kit'. Perhaps you can understand some of the challenges I face."

More than happy to promote the blog, Mr Strange, which is not only interesting but illustrated with happy pictures of blue screens of death. And we are happy to once again applaud your very British attitude to those double entendres that, in the words of Ronnie Barker, can mean only one thing.

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