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You vill enjoy yourselves. That M$ party in full

Somehow we get the feeling that the new watchword is 'partnership'

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And so Microsoft is 25 years old. To celebrate, it hosted a party last night in metallic nightclub Legends (just off Saville Row, London). On arrival, we were bemused when handed a large round badge with our name written beneath the large moniker "Cher". What's all this about?, we asked. It will all become clear, a PR bunny informed us. And so, stashing it in our pocket, leaving the glass of cheap red wine at the bar and grabbing a cold beer, we watched the night unfold.

But before the night's fun and games we were treated to a Microsoft version of hard-hitting current affairs programme Newsnight. Oh god. "Do you think it wise to do a faux journalistic programme in a room full of journalists?" we inquired of one of our favourite PR girls. "Well we wanted to get the message across..." she said before breaking into a broad grin, recognising that the situation was lost.

To its credit, the "programme" was well rehearsed (how many senior management hours were wasted on getting a bunch of journalists to scoff? We do that well enough already without encouragement). "Hard" questions hit all the right buttons: McNealy, the court case, monopolistic practices etc etc. But it's hard to tell if it was arrogance or just plain silliness that led M$ to think we wouldn't spot a fake when we saw one.

We did learn some interesting things though. Microsoft is going to win the court case. Also, it would apparently be hard to find someone who thought splitting Microsoft up was a good idea. Not that hard - the room was full of them. But that wasn't what tonight and the big dangly badges were all about. Oh no, tonight was all about "partnership". We started counting the number of times "partnership" was mentioned but gave up after number 32. You see, Microsoft's future vision is nothing to do with screwing other companies, stealing technologies, bundling goods together, threatening dissidents - no, it's all about (let's hear it) Partnership.

But back to the party. Newsnight over, we were instructed to go find our "partner". "I have Jones on stage, is Smith anywhere? Here's Salt and she's looking for her Pepper" etc etc. Our finding policy consisted of looking at all the attractive women's badges in the vain hope that a leggy blonde would be sporting a "Sonny badge". No such luck, so the badge remained hidden. (Some of the couplings were also more than a little disingenuous: Chalk & Cheese? Kane & Abel?!)

Everyone was then instructed to do various "fun" things like play Scaletrix or spray paint a board which you then stuck your head through. Play Lego. A good one consisted of drinking various noxious substances and presumably saying what they were. Not managing to find a partner was not a good enough excuse for not enjoying yourselves, so we had to retreat to the back of the bar to escape the Microsoft-shirt-clad Butlins attendants. Free beer and wine but spirits would cost yer.

And so everyone had a good time whether they liked it or not. The competitive freaks came to the fore and rushed around like blue-arsed flies gathering as many "gold medals" as they could. And then there was some awards ceremony where someone won something. Finally, the disco started. We wandered down for a dance and were amazed to find that virtually no one was left (10.30pm). And those that were there weren't dancing. Sod it. So we headed into nearby Soho for some late-night jiggery-pokery.

Food wasn't bad though. ®

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