1995 Fools: Microsoft Time
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 
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 
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".