Last week, Microsoft filed a trademark application for the name "ONIT," a men's lifestyle website. Its full description reads thus. "An Internet website portal featuring information of general interest to men." So that'll be ladies, sports, beer, technology, and ladies, then. Or, it says on the filing tin, "information in the field of entertainment, sports, fitness, recreation and leisure activity."
This is not the first time that Microsoft has done lifestyle—lest you forget, it part-owns MSNBC, on which you can find a couple of high-profile sites it's done in conjunction with BermanBraun Interactive, Glo, and Wonderwall. And I'm really hoping that they're going to bring Bill Gates out of retirement and have him edit the thing.
Because, although most guys would probably prefer to hang out with Steve Ballmer, who is, my manly spies tell me, a "Maxim kinda guy" a Gates-edited magazine would just be loads more fun. And face it, Ballmer's got his hands full right now, as he wrestles with the controls of the 478-legged behemoth that is Microsoft as it fights for tech supremacy with Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and, er, the other one. [Er, is there another one?—Ed.]
With Gates at the helm, you'd get stuff in there that you'd never find in any other men's lifestyle magazine. Quizzes to match readers up with the perfect mosquito net. How-to features on bringing out your inner philanthropist. 101 Things to do with a mini nuclear reactor. He could hire Bono as music editor, put Steve Jobs in charge of gadgets. Maybe even have Warren Buffett as the site's Personal Finance columnist.
I know that he's a busy man, but, since his retirement from Microsoft in 2008, he must have some time on his hands. Perhaps he could be in charge of holiday cover—so, when the I.T. department goes on holiday, he could man the helpline. Gone would be the stock phrase, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?", instead, tech-befuddled OnIt staffers could be bawled out with Gates' one-time catchphrase: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
He could write code to his heart's content, perhaps making the site the world's first diagonal read. From that would come a new, diamond-shaped device, Microsoft's first foray into the tablet world.
I think this could be a new beginning for Microsoft. And for Gates. After all, his career has been in the doldrums of late.