Bill Inside Your Box

He's heeere... (Cliche, I know. But I have a real reason to use it.)

Remember how scared we all were of the Poltergeist inside that TV? Imagine sitting in that haunted crib, peering through all that scary fuzz and seeing... nerdy glasses, frumpy cardigan -- spooky violin sounds -- Bill Gates!

Well, today might mark the day that the nightmare begins for the world's Windows-phobes, following today's announcement that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) will soon be bringing its television act to an SBC- (NYSE: SBC  ) fed boob tube near you. A couple of weeks back, we saw Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) set-top boxes built on Microsoft software. For an interesting discussion about how this move is likely to hit a company like TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) , click here.

This latest $400 million deal really means very little to Redmond's top line over the next decade, but it's yet another important milestone in the grand convergence of computers, TV, Video-on-Demand, Internet, and phone services.

I've been harping a bit lately about Microsoft's plodding plan of laying the groundwork for the upcoming media revolution, which includes expanded moves into online music as well as Media Center PCs -- which I still find a bit clunky. But there are other moves. Portable media centers are kind of crummy for now, but so was Microsoft's original handheld operating system, and now it's surpassed Palm's OS to become No. 1.

If you thought the whole "ghost in the machine" thing was too contrived or over-the-top, let me do some 'splaining, or at least sum up. It came about from an email I received yesterday in response to another recent Microsoft missive.

My peeved correspondent, seemingly deluded by a hostility toward all things Windows, made the rather odd claim that Microsoft had "failed to compete" in any technology field where it didn't already have a huge advantage of some sort. That, of course, is complete bunk. Microsoft's slow success is owed to a long-term strategy of gradual inclusion and commoditization of related technology.

Scream all you want that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is the real deal, or RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK  ) , or Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) -- whose recent spate of purchases shows a more Microsoft-like business strategy than the pundits have admitted. I say this is a rabble of mere pretenders.

You don't become the big Redmond Gorilla by screwing up or thinking small. Microsoft may be late, and it may be derivative, but it gets its tentacles into plenty of new technology, and, in the end, it leverages this into its ever-expanding universe. That's its advantage. It's everywhere. And it's growing.

Both SBC and TiVo areMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendations.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson built a moderately convenient media PC out of an old cotton gin crate -- really. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.


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