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Microsoft: Pushing e-commerce into the living room

It's the week of E3, as any gamer, game industry insider or entertainment retail analyst could tell you. And what's the news from the game industry expo? Big releases, exclusivity deals -- the usual.

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Instead of getting into gaming news specifically, I want to take a look at how Microsoft is progressing in turning its Xbox Live service into a serious content distribution play to rival (dare I say it?) Apple's iTunes. Not to mention other video-on-demand providers, movie rental outlets like Blockbuster, movie theaters and, oh, television itself. (Small, easily penetrable industries all, wouldn't you agree?)

One of the biggest pieces of Xbox Live-related news from Microsoft's presentation was the announcement of its deal with Netflix. We all saw this coming months ago, of course, but it's nice to see that Microsoft is laying the groundwork for Live to become a more extensive e-commerce play beyond downloads of indie games.

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