Every Friday, George Mannes writes a column for thestreet.com called "The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week". He rarely lacks for material. I'd gotten out of the habit of reading him, but recently I checked back.
Here's what he had to say about Microsoft's latest foray into the video/home entertainment world:
"2. Must Try to See TV"
"We can't help it. We still can't stop giggling whenever somebody tries to convince us that Microsoft (MSFT:Nasdaq) software soon will be the lifeblood of our home entertainment system.
"One reason is that we've heard it all before. We heard it in 1993, when Microsoft and Intel (INTC:Nasdaq) demonstrated Windows for cable television set-top boxes. We heard it in 1995, when Microsoft made a big investment in Comcast (CMCSA:Nasdaq). And we heard it in 1999, when Microsoft made an even bigger investment in AT&T (T:NYSE).
"The other reason we're amused is that Microsoft doesn't seem to understand what an uphill battle it faces in convincing folks it's a paragon of reliability.
"Maybe you think it's reliable. But consider the recent experience of Microsoft's own Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of Microsoft's TV Division.
"Last week, Lichtman was at Goldman Sachs' prestigious Communacopia conference in New York City, explaining how Microsoft's IPTV multichannel video system was on its way to being the lifeblood of our home entertainment system.
"And guess what? In the middle of the presentation, Lichtman's demonstration of this cool system crashed. It froze. He had to abandon it.
"The day before, we noticed that the Hyatt's cool information displays were marred by a Microsoft error message.
"To be sure, the fault may not lie in Microsoft's software. But the difficulty of diagnosing Windows problems only fuels our skepticism.
"We fear the day when a cable software glitch pre-empts the last innings of a World Series game. There are errors enough in baseball -- who needs a fatal one from Microsoft?"