Microsoft, Post-PC

Microsoft Plugs PC as Media Hub

fter a lifetime of telling people how they will use computers, it was as if Microsoft had suddenly discovered the consumer.

Sure, the company has pitched lots of products and services to consumers in the past — MSN, the ill-fated UltimateTV, tablets, wireless monitors and a Windows “media center” that operates by remote control.

But, as an industry event, this year’s WinHEC was a turning point. On the trade show floor, in place of the once-huge booth occupied by chipmaker Intel — Microsoft’s biggest partner — digital recorders, designer flash drives and 3-D games dominated Intel’s former space. In their keynote talks, Allchin and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stretched harder than ever to show the PC as the future hub of home entertainment.

It’s a category Microsoft is in a hurry to master because, as one of the company’s partners pointed out Tuesday between Allchin’s and Gates’ talks, the PC is running out of time.