Lights, camera...Microsoft?

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on PCWorld's sister publication, Computerworld.

Microsoft is making a big move into producing Hollywood-style series and movies for its Xbox platform, with the hiring of a former CBS executive who helped develop TV series such as "Survivor," "C.S.I.," and "Two and a Half Men." It's a great move for the company looking to find its place in a post-PC future.

Microsoft just hired Nancy Tellem, who will oversee the creation of original video content that will be available through Microsoft's Xbox, as well as other devices that connect to it, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The Los Angeles Times reports that Tellem had been with CBS since 1997 and was in charge of the network's entertainment division between 1998 and 2009. Microsoft will be building its own studio in Los Angeles, as well as making deals with existing Hollywood studios. Tellem told the Los Angeles Times that Microsoft will create "premium content" of a high enough quality to compete with cable and network TV shows. She added:

"We have large visions as to where this could all go. Building up a studio in Los Angeles with a significant financial commitment is very important."

It's not clear yet whether the video content will be free and ad-supported, available on a subscription basis, or avaialble as pay-per-view.

It's a very smart move on Microsoft's part. The days of Windows' growth are waning, and the company needs to look elsewhere for the future. The Xbox has been extremely successful, and this will help build on that. The New York Times notes that Xbox Live has more than 40 million membersand already is a video destination, offering programming from Netflix, Comcast, ESPN, and others. Offering original programming will certainly bring in even more members.

Microsoft has been struggling to find its place in a increasingly post-PC world. It's still well behind in smartphones and tablets. This move could well make up for some of that.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 40 books, including "How the Internet Works," "Windows XP Hacks," and "Windows Vista in a Nutshell" and "NOOK Tablet: The Missing Manual." You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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