Michael Croft's instincts were correct about Microsoft's iLoo porta-potty snafu: it was a real project that withered in the light of day, not a hoax perpetuated by the entire British division of MS. Thanks also to our VisualSimplicity for news of the MS reversal.
If you haven't been following this truth-is-stranger-funnier-smellier-than-fiction story, it began when Microsoft's British subsidiary released a statement about their new project:
- The iLoo being developed by the MSN division of Microsoft Corp. in Britain is a standard portable toilet - a loo to the English - with a wireless keyboard and extending, height-adjustable plasma screen in front of the seat.
There would also be a "Hotmail station" with waterproof keyboard and plasma screen on the outside for those waiting in line.
MSN officials say they're negotiating for the manufacture of toilet paper imprinted with Web addresses that users may not have tried.
Um, sure. Ridicule, scorn, disbelief and less polite terms were heaped upon Microsoft, with the overall consensus being they had lost their collective minds. Then,
- On Monday, the world's largest software maker had said the "iLoo," which was described in minute detail in an April 30 press release by its British subsidiary, was a hoax and apologized for any "confusion or offense."
But on Tuesday Microsoft switched its story and said that the iLoo had been a legitimate project by its British MSN Internet service that was terminated after the initial announcement prompted controversy, ridicule and disgust.
"Corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, looked at it and decided maybe this wasn't a good idea," said Lisa Gurry, MSN group product manager. [Reuters]
Can't imagine why - who wouldn't want to do some quality surfing in the midst of fermenting human feces and urine? Who wouldn't want to belly up to a keyboard handled by any number of disease carriers, in between wiping themselves and picking their noses? Yum!
- Gurry said the iLoo had been intended as part of a public relations campaign to promote the company's money-losing MSN service in unexpected places. The same campaign had previously featured Web access on London park benches and beach chairs in France.
Parks, beaches, crap-tanks - it's all the same!
- Microsoft, meanwhile, said its focus now was "to ensure that this type of confusion doesn't happen again."
"Our top priority right now is making sure that a couple of misstatements from yesterday are corrected," Gurry said.
That, and drug testing those who thought this was a good idea in the first place.