Microsoft is not the worst corporate investor on the planet. But it's clearly not the best either, and threatens to undermine its own attempts to be relevant in growth markets like mobile and internet by continuing to buy buy stakes in or partner with also-rans like Barnes & Noble, Yahoo! and Nokia.
Of course, it may be that Microsoft can't help but rely on third parties to help it become what it clearly is not: a consumer technology company. Microsoft's other investments have been major misses.
Microsoft first tried to unseat Red Hat's growing dominance in the data center by subsidising Novell. Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars helping Novell mischaracterise Linux as a patent quagmire, Red Hat has grown from strength to strength.
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