Microsoft powers up best invention ever?

Forget the disappearing KIN phones, ignore the cancelled Courier project and look past Kinect's rapidly shrinking capabilities. Microsoft has finally

The new power system, released today without any fanfare, allows you to load batteries into your gadgets in any direction. No more squinting into the battery void trying to make out the tiny polarity indicators; in one fell swoop, Steve Ballmer has delivered what billions of dollars of Zune R&D never could: tech that will significantly improve the lives of millions.

The Instaload system is basically just a clever mechanical contact design with positive and negative terminals at both ends, allowing to you chuck multiple batteries into a portable device in any configuration. It can be made to work with all sizes of cell, from dinky AAA to chunky D, and even special shapes like CR123.

Microsoft is licensing the tech out to manufacturers, with Duracell, Remington and Black and Decker among those who have already signed up. The Seattle company has also very kindly offered royalty-free licenses for any devices intended for people with vision or learning difficulties.

Don't hold your breath to see InstaLoad tech in arch-rival Apple's gadgets, however. Steve Jobs seems to think that their batteries simply never need changing..