Bill Gates's Quiet Shopping Spree

These days, Microsoft is making deals left and right

There are the usual corporate investment binges, and then there is the one under way at Microsoft Corp., a company with $8 billion in cash and a yen to buy. In the past year, the most powerful company in the personal computer business has quietly added a new tactic to its considerable arsenal: In addition to a huge internal research and development effort, it is snatching up technologies--or getting an inside peek at them--through acquisitions and investments.

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