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Microsoft delves into show business

Group form to push PCs as home entertainment devices

It appears that even Microsoft cannot resist the lure of Hollywood, as the software giant has formed a media and entertainment business group designed to turn the spotlight on digital networked home products. The group is also charged with influencing public policy on digital content and delivery technologies.

The company's new Media/Entertainment & Technology Convergence Group will be led by Blair Westlake, former chairman of the Universal Television & Networks Group, the company announced this week.
Westlake will take the post of group corporate vice president, responsible for putting digital entertainment technologies and policies in place and managing key industry relationships.

The group is aimed at expanding consumers' use of PCs as home entertainment devices, and will also seek to spur the delivery of news, entertainment, and sports programming to Windows Powered-devices in the home.

The company is also seeking to influence public policy and standards for digital content and technology, including regulatory and legislative policy concerning Internet Protocol (IP), digital rights management and media format standards, it says.

Additionally, the group will seek to form industry alliances in the media and entertainment industries. In that vein, the company says that it has expanded its relationship with the media and technology consulting firm, Lieberfarb & Associates, to support the activities of the newly-formed group.

Microsoft's creation of an entertainment and technology convergence unit does not place the company in a new sphere, but instead seeks to consolidate many of the company's previous, disparate activities. The software maker has been increasing its focus on the home entertainment market in recent years, rolling out its Portable Media Center software, for example, and has long been active in influencing industry policy.

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