|Home The Net Comics Links Stories Buy Stuff|
1995 Fools: Microsoft Time
30-MAR-95, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND. Microsoft's recent purchase of a 25% stake in the Motorola developed "Iridium" global mobile telephone system, and their two year-old "Memorandum of Co-Operation" with the US National Physics Laboratory were put into perspective today at a meeting in the Palexpo exhibition center in Geneva, Switzerland. At the invitation-only event at the 37th Clock & Watchmakers Convention, William Gates II, president of Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, Wash.), announced an agreement with Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), Motorola Inc. (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Casio Corp. (Tokyo), Swatch AG (Biel/Bienne, Switzerland), Rolex AG (Bern, Switzerland) and the US Government, on the establishment of a new universal standard for time measurement for use with Personal Computers (PCs), clocks, watches, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile communications systems. A number of production and prototype products and tools were demonstrated that make use of the new standard. Microsoft's new Time standard - known as MSTime - was developed in co-operation with the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and is claimed to remove the need for national and local time zones, solves problems with poor PC time-keeping, and even looks ahead to deal with time-dilation effects associated with space travel. Gates informed the meeting that MSTime will allow the synchronisation of Chinese, Moslem and Western calender systems, and will automatically adjust for irregularities in the rate of rotation of the Earth. MSTime signals will be broadcast on Motorola's "Iridium" global mobile telephone system, the US Government's Global Positioning System satellites, from radio beacons in various national centers, and via Microsoft's new on-line network. A new Microsoft designed PC card, incorporating a short range radio transmitter, will be made available, at low cost, to provide further local distribution of the MSTime signal from the Microsoft Network. Many computer applications, Gates claimed, will not function beyond the year 2000 - current Microsoft Operating System (OS) architectures are only good until (variously) 2078 and 2099. MS supplied software libraries for MSTime will allow software developers to write new programs, or recompile old ones, that will function correctly indefinitely. Since Microsoft is keen to see the MSTime standard adopted as soon as possible, it will be providing these libraries on a free of charge or royalties basis. An MSTime Software Development Kit (SDK) is already available, and contains routines for seamless re-synchronisation of time-zones and for scheduling changes of time-passage. Once the MSTime infrastructure is in place, Gates claimed, travellers will never again need to adjust their watches. Timepieces and computers compatible with MSTime will carry an "I'm on MSTime!" logo. Latest watches from Rolex, Swatch and Casio, displayed at the meeting, are able to switch their display between Universal, Local and Very Local Time-zones. Very Local Time (VLT) was originally envisaged to deal with the time dilation effects associated with high-speed travel. These effects, first described by physicist Albert Einstein, are exhibited when one of two identical clocks is taken on a high speed journey, after which the two clocks show differing times. As speeds increase the differences are more pronounced. Gates claims that the VLT-mode of MSTime provides continuous synchronisation of the two clocks, thus removing the problems and potentially embarrassing time-dilation effects experienced by high-speed travellers. However, as Gates pointed out, VLT-mode will also allow individuals and communities the freedom to live at speeds and times that best suit their attitudes and beliefs. The first PC version of MSTime will be bundled with the latest version of Microsoft's successful "Windows" computer operating system - Windows'95. Further updates will be issued via the recently inaugurated Microsoft Network. As Gates told the meeting: "Keeping your version of MSTime current is going to be pretty crucial if you want to keep up with the competition, or even meet your customers on time!" Gates claimed that Microsoft itself has been using MSTime internally for the last year - and that the results have been very encouraging. The first public release of MSTime is reported "well on schedule for launch at the end of 1994".