AT&T-Comcast's Big Winner: Microsoft

Bill Gates will wind up with a nice chunk of the new cable giant, giving him powerful ammo vs. AOL Time Warner

As the ink dried on AT&T's $47 billion sale of its cable unit to Comcast (CMCSK ), some analysts heralded the deal as a victory -- for Microsoft (MSFT ). By converting the $5 billion that AT&T (T ) owed it to equity in Comcast, Microsoft at the very least has put its money in the hands of a more capable cable manager and should see a far better return on its investment. And at best, Microsoft could have a new pipe to 22 million U.S. households through which to push its new ensemble of consumer services, not to mention a second chance for its troubled TV set-top-box software.

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