Tom Henderson: The CeBIT Weather Report
Let's suppose for a moment, that you're the head of a company that has had brush after brush with EC authorities over your business practices. They've fined you heavily, and you've fought them tooth and nail. Then they fine your company again, to the tune of more than $1.3 Billion for continuing misdeed. What do you do?
What Steve Ballmer did was to get an enormous stand at the CeBIT 2008, then wangle his way onto the CeBIT Opening Ceremony with the heads of state of Germany, France, and the President of the EC (among others, it was a long list). There, two seats to the right of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was the redoubtable Mr Ballmer. Ballmer, who towered over most of the political contingent that launched the event, also used Microsoft's newish Surface PC (think coffee table touch screen) to perform the 'ribbon cutting' ceremony, digitally, rather than with a scissors.
Were I a Microsoft shareholder, I'd be applauding Ballmer for lots of efforts at high level to assuage the negative sentiment towards Microsoft's EU business practices. Microsoft's 'full court press' product rollout last week, coupled to a very heavy presence in the most concentrated Linux-loving area of the continent, will make for interesting observations here at CeBIT.
Another part of the theatre has certainly been the weather. Today, the opening day of the exhibition, the skies are sunny. This comes after an unbelievable mix of hailstorms, rain, freezing rain, thick but melting snow, and high winds. It's calmer today: a good thing for the endless S-Bahn trains with show-goers packed like sardines. Sardines with water, of course.
Today, it's Kermit Day. It's not easy being green, but I'm going to visit the Future Park to investigate just what green means in practical terms. I'm hoping there's not to much fertilizer.