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Gates promises enriching experience for UK lottery

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Microsoft has joined the team of companies fronted by Virgin's Richard Branson in order to bid for the UK's lottery. Bids for the contract, which will run for seven years, are due in next month, and a happy Bill Gates of Microsoft was yesterday telling interviewers all about how PC technology would revolutionise the process and enrich the users' experience. Ahem. There's quite a bit of potential synergy between Branson's aspirations as a mobile phone vendor, Gates' view that mobile phones and the Internet can be used to buy tickets, and what Microsoft's currently up to in the mobile market, but PC technology? Microsoft will no doubt have its server software driving the system if the Branson bid is accepted, but this is an appliance-driven application if we ever heard of one. And - skipping any moral considerations we might have - a pretty compelling one, at that. Lottery tickets are currently sold via newsagents and supermarket cigarette counters, thus severely impeding The Register's ability to nip in and buy a quick pack of Bensons, so turning it into an impulse decision you can execute more or less by just twitching a finger could increase spend dramatically. Which makes you wonder about "enrich" too. But Bill may have his own problems in that direction, as Branson, in between boasting of creating a millionaire a day and giving all the proceeds to charity (only a proportion currently does, although "good causes" are the ostensible justification for the system), has been suggesting that Microsoft could be looking at putting its earnings from the deal into good causes as well. The Branson team includes quite a rogue's gallery of outfits poised - presumably - to give all their profits to charity. US gaming technology AWI, KPMG, J Walter Thompson, Compaq and Cisco. A further horror is Branson's claim that he's negotiating with games design companies to produce Internet lottery games. Nice to see we're going to be encouraging the kids to give to charity too. In the interests of balance, we should note that the charitable Mr Branson's Virgin Railways has piled fare increase upon fare increase, and has as yet failed to deliver something recognisable as an efficient railway. The Register also notes to its displeasure that the introduction of free breakfasts in first class has resulted in one of the smallest dishes you're ever likely to see termed a "Big Bite." The kipper, the glory of the old British Rail dining car, is no more. ®

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