By Jo Maitland in Atlanta Microsoft Corp is betting its future on stitching together its Windows platform with emerging IP, DSL and webTV services from the telecoms industry, the company’s president Steve Balmer said during a keynote on the opening day of the SuperComm trade show in Atlanta yesterday. Through its investments in major players […]
By Jo Maitland in Atlanta
Microsoft Corp is betting its future on stitching together its Windows platform with emerging IP, DSL and webTV services from the telecoms industry, the company’s president Steve Balmer said during a keynote on the opening day of the SuperComm trade show in Atlanta yesterday.
Through its investments in major players such as AT&T, NTL, Telewest, Nextel Communications and a handful of software companies developing applications for the wireless and cable industries, Microsoft intends to bootstrap the Windows platform onto webTV services, cable and digital subscriber line modems or wireless services. We don’t care whether it’s cable or DSL or wireless, said Ballmer, we just want to move the industry along faster and get these services deployed.
Microsoft has made a series of investments in cable and telecommunications companies over the past two years. The first was back in 1997, when Redmond announced a $1bn investment in Comcast Corp. Then, in May this year, it announced a $5bn investment in AT&T in exchange for the right to provide software to AT&T’s cable TV set-top boxes. It made the same sort of deal in the UK with cable company, NTL Inc, in which it invested $500m to jointly develop a new broadband network in the UK and Ireland. It also plans to embed its CE operating system into NTL’s set top boxes. The software giant also took a 30% stake in NTL’s rival, Telewest Communications Plc in January of this year. The company has also made significant investments in Wink Communications Inc, Rhythms NetConnections Inc, United Pan-Europe Communications NV (UPC) – the Dutch cable and telecom operator, Skytel, the wireless messaging company and Nextel Communications Inc. And we won’t be stopping here, Ballmer added.
He outlined key areas of focus for the company over the next year which include broadband, MSN mobile, wireless knowledge, webTV, Windows CE and the microbrowser which he said were all, intrinsic to the success of the company in the world of communications.
Microsoft also announced that its Small Business Server 4.5 will now include Sprint Corp’s Business Flex portfolio of communications services, which offer voice, video and services over a single existing connection to the home or business. Ballmer said that bandwidth is critical to all businesses right now but that the small business market still lags behind the rest of industry in terms of adopting new PC technology. He said the latest version of small business server should address this issue. Maribel Lopex, analyst with Forrester Research said: Running your telephony requirements, messaging, LAN and internet needs all from one box sounds amazing, but there is still the issue that if this one box goes down, you lose everything. Microsoft said a back-up server was necessary to prevent any downtime. Sprint’s ION (Integrated on Demand) platform, which includes the Flex services, will not be available until later this year, according to a spokesperson at the show. á