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Microsoft buys Telewest stake from AT&T

Bill’s got your PC, now he wants your phone and TV too

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Not happy with his smothering domination of the world's software industry, Bill Gates now wants to get stuck in to the cable market. The Great Stan of Software is to buy 29.9 per cent of Telewest from AT&T for around $1.8 billion. The deal is part of a wider $5 billion investment by Stan in AT&T that will result in Windows software being shoe-horned into set-top boxes that be ultimately be used to deliver high-speed Net access via TVs instead of PCs. The effect of Stan's entry into the cable market has lead to some choice assessment in the UK press. "A three-way merger to create a national cable company capable of rivalling BT and BSkyB burst into prospect," enthused the Daily Telegraph. "Microsoft…grabbed a huge slice of the UK's cable industry, positioning itself as a potential power broker…in a move likely to change the face of the British media market," said the Financial Times. The widely held view is that Stan's entry into the market will act as a catalyst in the cable industry. The inevitable conclusion is that it will lead to the creation of a single cable operator -- as long as that is given the go-ahead by the regulator. ®

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