The Times’ Saul Hansell had lunch with J Allard, the brilliant executive who runs Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division (XBox, Zune). Judging from Saul’s write-up, Microsoft and Allard continue to be wedded to the same strategic goal that has hobbled Microsoft’s Internet effort for the past 12 years: It wants to turn the Internet into a big version of Windows.
J Allard’s latest plan is to build a single “platform” that feeds content to Zunes, xBoxes, cell phones, and all manner of other devices–hooking up content providers (software manufacturers) on one side with consumers (PC users) on the other–with Microsoft, natch, collecting a toll in the middle.
The trouble with this vision? The platform already exists. It’s called “The Internet.”
(Apple (AAPL) is doing its damnedest to turn the music, video, and phone piece of this puzzle into a closed monopoly, but, on the content side, at least, even Apple’s having a rough time moving beyond the core music franchise.)