Jerry Seinfeld was once a very funny and popular man. Bill Gates... not so much.
This is almost certainly unfair. Gates may be loathed by open-sourcerers everywhere for his perceived role in creating a software industry where once there was only goodwill and creativity. He is certainly from time to time cursed by those of us who use Microsoft products. We call him rude names.
But by all accounts he is an amiable chap. He is nice to his wife. He turns up to interminable honoury degree citations with a gormless, good-natured grin on his face. Oh, and he is spending his gazillions trying to make the world a better place.
(Stop making puking noises at the back, he ruddy well is. And although he will hardly go short of a pint at the end of the month, the world would immediately be a better place if a few more über-magnates flogged their gold houses and rocket cars and bought a few wells and fishing rods and stuff for the developing world.)
Gates will, however, never be cool. Like Microsoft, he is just too, you know, geeky. Too ones-and-noughts. A bit too full-on and, er, codey. He wears specs. And not cool, ironic media specs. Even when he's doing or saying the right thing, to the cynical British eye he comes across only as a bit too earnest. Creepy even. Lady needs to get himself some irony.
(Incidentally, as an unreconstructed Apple fanboy, I feel I've earned the right to point out that Macs are only cool in the way that drinking expensive foreign lager, wearing a designer suit in a bar with unisex toilets is 'cool'. They're tasteful, good-looking, and soulless. They skim the surface and look nice. They should work in advertising. And guess what, they do. I digress).
I used to love 'Seinfeld', but its very essence was a sitcom about anodyne, dull things. With loads of white people, living dull, anodyne lives. Nothing happened. And here's the thing, Jerry, by all accounts another nice chap, has passed his pomp, and is settling nicely into post-pomp, mildly amusing semi-retirement. He is carving out a niche. On his metaphorical couch.
The man just made a cartoon about a bee, for Chrissake. A marginally amusing, inoffensive, sub-'Ants' film about a bee.
In essence, in no way washed up, Jerry Seinfeld is in no way cool.
But perhaps that's the point. Perhaps Microsoft is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to emphasise benign, bland ubiquity. Don't fight it folks, we've been here for ever, and we'll be here forever. Now log on, tune in and restart.
'We're not cool,' MS is saying: 'We're your Dad. We're picking you up from the disco with plaid pyjamas sticking out of the bottom of your Mum's duffle coat. We have a mullet. But we're your ride home.'
And like a parent, the Redmond massif is saying, you'll always come back to us. Accept it. You might fall out with us, and we know we've passed our sell-by date, but when you have to work out how to get cheaper car insurance, pitch a tent or grout a bathroom wall, you know you'll come running for advice. Restart.
And hey, at least we're not Kramer.