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Microsoft Touts New 6-8-6 Haiku Format
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REDMOND, Washington - For over a century, the diminutive haiku has been a darling among the poetry elite. Since its successful break from its less structured Japanese forebear in the 1890's, the three-line poems have attracted attention both for their ease of creation and their simplicity for the reader. "Haiku is what we would call 'accessible'," said Martin Tophet, of the American Haiku Society, "They are everyman's literary art. One may not be willing to study the nuances of a Dickens novel or endure the challenge of a Muldoon poem, but even the most beer-swilling of Neanderthals can understand a simple -- though deceptively powerful -- haiku." "It was a good start," agreed Microsoft founder Bill Gates, "But everything has to progress, and poetry is no different. The new haiku format allows for an additional syllable on each line, giving authors and users more options. It's all about giving the user what he wants."

"A haiku is 5-7-5. Anything else isn't 'improved', it's wrong."
-- Martin Tophet, American Haiku Society
"The 'Microsoft Literary Suite' will enable authors to quickly and easily convert their thoughts into structured poetry," explained Gates, "It provides hints, suggests themes, helps writers out of the corners they write themselves into, and does it all using tools you're already familiar with." Commenting further on the MS-Haiku product Gates said, "Haiku has traditionally been very limiting. The five-syllable limitation mean you could never open a poem with 'onomatopoeia' or 'utilitarian', and the seven-syllable second line excludes common words like 'electroencephalogram' and 'nonanticipativity'. MS-Haiku removes that limit and opens the author up to thousands of new literary options." A backwards-compatibility option allows authors to build 5-7-5 haiku, if desired.

"Who said we needed a new standard?" exclaimed Tophet, "A haiku is 5-7-5. Anything else isn't 'improved', it's wrong. The whole point, the whole challenge, of haiku is expressing oneself within the syllabilisitic limitations. Removing or changing that challenge defeats the whole purpose."

"People are resistant to change, it's inevitable that there would be some pushback from the purists," defended Gates, "But in the end progress will win out over purity. It's the natural order of things, and it's beautiful, really."

The products become available September 1st. The entire suite will retail for $399. MS-Haiku can be purchased alone for $79. Discounts are available for teachers, students, veterans, veterinarians, and Episcopalians. Pirated copies are expected to hit street corners by early in the 4th quarter of 2004.
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