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Bill's thrills

Uncle Bill chose the splendor of the Cirque du Soleil's lavish theater at the Treasure Island casino to unveil Windows CE, Microsoft's new handheld operating system that looks and feels like a baby Win 95.

    Uncle Bill chose the splendor of the Cirque du Soleil's lavish theater at the Treasure Island casino to unveil Windows CE, Microsoft's new handheld operating system that looks and feels like a baby Win 95.

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    As The Bill and Win CE head honcho Jon Magill chatted woodenly through the scripted demo, Magill's manipulations of Win CE were projected onto the back wall. The 1,500 in attendance were treated to the reflection of Magill's shiny forehead in the screen projection, blocking out most of the actual view of the device itself. For the record, Magill has a lovely scalp.

    Gleaming flesh was also the theme in the Cirque du Soleil performance that followed. Rippling, bare-chested men twirled through the air and hung from their fingertips; women in garish martian costume and jungle feathers tumbled across trampolines.

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    Wayne Yurtin, co-founder of AllPen Software
    Unfortunately, there wasn't much cirque in the soiree that followed. Microsoft and its Windows CE partners hosted a question-and-answer session with the press, but the sound of hundreds of hungry journalists and vendors sprinting to the nearby buffet tables nearly drowned out the Q&A. The real story of the party was the food: roast beef sandwiches with horseradish, wasabi-saturated sushi, coconut prawns, and enough deep-fried fare to fell a Chicago Bear. Yum.

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    Microsoft continued to prove that it may dominate the world, but it does so without soul. Drooling tech hacks notwithstanding, the party was a dud. Magill tried to liven up the show by raffling off handheld PCs, which made for a couple fleeting moments of enthusiasm and PDA nostalgia. One lucky winner shrieked in joy and recalled the time when she won a Newton.

    The Menu:
    --sushi
    --cheese cubes
    --deep-fried shrimp
    --deep-fried egg rolls
    --deep-fried chicken sate
    --roast beef and turkey