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Microsoft's Wireless Affair Ends

Man, I love Wi-Fi. I use it every day. In fact, the PC card in my Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) PowerBook is going to help me get this column submitted before today's deadline by wirelessly connecting me to the Web. I admit it: There are some days when it just feels good to roam the digital wilderness from every room in the house, although even I concede that restroom Web surfing is a stretch.

Of course, I'm not the only one who is head over heels for wireless connectivity. Wired magazine predicted in its May issue that there would be more than 700 million Wi-Fi users by 2008. In February, Synergy Research Group pegged sales of wireless networking gear for 2003 at $2.5 billion. Like Apple, NetGear (Nasdaq: NTGR  ) , Cisco's (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) Linksys unit, and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) stood to gain from the rapidly expanding market with its own Wi-Fi hardware.

But yesterday, Mr. Softy decided not to take the next step in his relationship with Ms. Wi-Fi, ending the affair less than two years after first setting eyes on her. And maybe that's for the best. After all, Microsoft is primarily a software company, and Wi-Fi gear has not been much of a platform for creating more great software to woo consumers, unlike the Xbox gaming system. (Although it is generally acknowledged that, as part of its foray into making Wi-Fi devices, Microsoft created some good software for improving wireless network security.)

Investors so far seem to appreciate Microsoft's renewed focus on software, sending the shares moderately higher in morning trading. I have to agree. Should Mr. Softy decide to get flirtatious again, I hope it's with a sexier dividend.

Mathew Emmert wants you to get paid for your investing. Like the sound of that? TryMotley Fool Income Investorrisk-free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers at one time flirted with owning Enron shares. Fortunately, he ended that affair before it began. Tim has no stake in any of the companies mentioned, and you can view his Fool profile here.

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