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Fun at Microsoft’s bloggers’ night

Excuse this self-indulgence but I think Microsoft likes me.
Yes, Microsoft – the company accused of monopolistic practices, sued by the US and the EU, and considered by free software advocates as the “evil empire.”
But hey, I’m easy – I’ll take whatever I can get.
Except that I’m not so sure what the software company can offer me.
After all, I’m not a big Microsoft fan. Nor do I think I fall within its market demographic.
I avoid Word, I stay away from Outlook, and I dislike Internet Explorer. (I use Tex-Edit, Thunderbird, and Firefox).
But that’s at home.
At the office, Microsoft reigns supreme, providing software applications for virtually every task I undertake, save for snacking and sleeping.
This probably explains my indifference when Microsoft – through a public relations outfit – invited me for Bloggers’ Night last January 28 at its Makati offices.
The company wanted me to join its employees and other fellow bloggers for a night of – and I am not making this up – “Fun! Fun! Fun!”
Unfortunately, fun is the last thing I associate with Microsoft.
But all that changed when the company decided to spice up its event.
Attendance to Microsoft’s Bloggers’ Night was only available to the first 100 bloggers who could comply with two criteria: First, their blogs had to be at least one year old and contained a minimum of 20 entries, and second, that bloggers had to be eighteen years or older.
I was up to the challenge and could very well comply with both.
However, my interest was unnecessarily piqued.
What were the restrictions for?
Was the company about to launch the equivalent of software expos in Las Vegas that featured adult film actresses? Did guest bloggers include personalities such as Mocha Uson and pioneers of Philippine adult entertainment such as Boy Bastos?
Close but no cigar.
The first rule was to ensure that only serious bloggers would be able to go while the second was imposed to prevent minors from attending. The company was serving alcohol during the event, reportedly the first time it was doing so in the Philippines, an executive told me.
This announcement alone convinced me that Microsoft was reaching out to computer users such as myself.
And it was doing so through the cheapest and most effective means possible – free beer.
On the appointed day, bloggers of all colors, shapes, and sizes assembled at Microsoft’s offices, eager to meet fellow netizens.
While I shared their enthusiasm, I was more interested in locking lips with a cold bottle of light beer, the brand of which will not be mentioned to avoid giving free advertising to San Mig Light.
An hour or two into the event, everyone was pretty much enjoying each other’s company, an experience enhanced by eating free food and drinking free beer.
By eight o’ clock or so in the evening, it was payback time.
Since Microsoft Philippines at that time already had a captive audience – members of whom were in various stages of intoxication – company representatives seized the opportunity to demonstrate various enhancements found in the beta versions of the Microsoft Office Suite 2010.
While nursing a beer during the demo, I learned that Microsoft’s new version of PowerPoint allowed videos to be embedded, trimmed, and edited, all inside the application.
Using this new feature, regular, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety office drones can spruce up their presentations by using videos from YouTube.
Moreover, Microsoft’s latest version of Word and Excel apps also permitted simultaneous online editing through a browser – a feature demonstrated live between two laptops manipulating the same file.
Under another application, multiple photos of the same subject taken from different angles can be “stitched” together to come up with one panoramic shot.
Overall, I must admit I was impressed with Microsoft’s latest iteration of its Office Suite.
I’ll seriously think about migrating to Microsoft apps anytime I get the chance. Yes, including – gasp! – Internet Explorer.
In the meantime, how about another round, Bill Gates?
Picture from the Facebook account of MSFriends Philippines.

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