Olympic notebook: Microsoft exec avoids the penalty box

Microsoft executive Kirill Tatarinov got caught watching a hockey game during an important team meeting. Luckily for him, his boss is an even bigger hockey fan.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
4 min read

VANCOUVER--Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop looked up as he delivered a presentation to his top managers on Microsoft's campus on Wednesday.

As Elop had been speaking, one of those managers, Kirill Tatarinov, had groaned several times.

Stephen Elop
Stephen Elop shows off his Team Canada jersey. Ina Fried/CNET

"Was it something I said," Elop asked Tatarinov, who runs a division that creates business software for midsize companies.

Sheepishly, Tatarinov confessed that he had been watching the Russia-Canada Olympic hockey game. If Tatarinov worked for some other bosses at Microsoft, that could have been what is known in Redmond as a "career limiting move." Luckily, Tatarinov works for Elop, himself a huge hockey fan.

"I respected his choice of priorities," Elop told me. "He didn't take a ding on it at all."

Plus, it was hard to be too mad. Each groan meant that Elop's beloved Canadian hockey team was winning.

"I was more pleased that Canada was winning," Elop said.

Elop even managed to wrap the meeting up a bit early so that he, Tatarinov, and the rest of the team could catch the action at the nearby Spitfire Grill. When the Russians finally pulled their goaltender after the deficit grew to 6-1, Elop lovingly put his arm around Tatarinov.

And being the hockey fan that he is, Elop, of course, found his way to Vancouver. In a bold move of his own, Elop showed up to the USA House on Thursday, hours before the gold medal game, decked out in his Team Canada jersey, getting quite a bit of ribbing from those at the U.S. Olympic Committee-run pavilion.

Part of the visit, Elop said was business. In a brief meeting Thursday before he headed to watch the gold medal women's hockey game between Canada and the U.S., Elop noted that he is Microsoft's executive sponsor for Bell Canada--a major telecommunications customer for Microsoft and a sponsor of the Games. But, he agreed a big part of the trip was also about hockey.

In addition to that women's hockey game (the outcome of which means I now owe Elop a beer), the Microsoft executive also plans to attend both the bronze and gold medal men's games.

We did spend a minute or two talking shop. I pressed him on rumors I keep hearing that Microsoft is working on a version of Office (or some Office applications) for the iPad and iPhone, but Elop slipped the check with a flat no comment.

He did assure me that those reading Microsoft's move with Windows Phone 7 Series as a move away from the enterprise are misunderstanding. While the new interface is designed to appeal to consumers more than other versions of Windows Mobile, he assured me his unit is investing more in software for Windows phones than ever before. "The business division is more involved than ever before," he said.

A quick recharge
One of the coolest gadgets I've run across in Vancouver is the rapid battery-charging machine from Samsung. The company has them stationed at venues across the city. The units, which are free to use at the Games, allow many different types of cell phone batteries to be charged in 20 minutes or less.

A Samsung mobile charging station, one of more than 60 such machines located in various hotels, Olympic venues, and other spots across greater Vancouver and Whistler. Ina Fried/CNET

According to Samsung, the chargers use a processor that detects the battery voltage and applies the same or slightly higher voltage to increase the rate of charge, allowing for a process that normally takes a few hours to be done in a matter of minutes.

The Korean electronics giant--and big-time Olympic partner-- has installed a total of 67 charging stations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, in hotels, press rooms, athlete's villages, competition venues, and other locales.

To use the machine, you need only make sure your battery works--it has to do with where on the battery the conduits are located. Then choose a three-digit pin to secure your battery, pop in the battery, and come back 20 minutes later to find your once-depleted battery ready for more action. The stations came in particularly handy for me on Tuesday as I spent the morning covering hockey and then shifted to an evening of writing about figure skating.

Skating at the bar
One of the cool things about the Vancouver Olympics is practically every restaurant or bar in town is a mini-venue with a contingent of fans as passionate as any lucky enough to have tickets.

Such was the case with Thursday's ladies figure skating finals. I found myself at Character's--a bar and restaurant on Davie Street.

At one table, a group of Koreans cheered on Yu-Na Kim, a national hero and the points leader after the short program. One table over, a group of Canadians clapped for Joannie Rochette, their countrywoman who was skating just days after her mother's death.

The Koreans also cheered for Rochette. "We know about her story," said Seung Yu, who studies English in Vancouver. Yu and her friends wanted Rochette to get a medal too--just not the gold.

In the end, all were happy, with Rochette getting bronze and Kim, the gold.

"It's quite a heroic performance," Toronto's Dan Fernandes said of Rochette. "A bronze medal means more than a gold (under other circumstances)."

Lauren Karst, of Bowen Island, British Columbia, said she was also happy because Canada now has 17 medals, equal to its mark for the Torino games, with the country also assured of a medal in curling. "'Own the Podium' worked," she said, referring to the national effort to do better on home turf in this year's medal standings.

More from Vancouver?

As always, if you want even more on the Olympics, please check out the companion blog I am doing for CBSSports.com.