Personal computers that drive home entertainment systems are the next step on Microsoft's seemingly golden highway.

In true salesman style, the company's supremo and world famous nerd Bill Gates went on stage in Los Angeles to showcase Windows Media Center PCs, which allow users to play digital music, movies and photographs via their TVs – and all at the press of a remote control button.

Says Windows marketing director Brad Brooks: "People need to think of a PC not just as a productivity tool, but also as the central device that integrates all of their digital entertainment experiences."

And he must be hoping consumers will share this point of view as Microsoft's sales target for what it is marketing as 'must have' machines is twenty million a year by 2008.

There are possible potholes on the Microsoft road, including competition from electronics giant Sony and computing rival Apple, the Windows system's tendency to crash at inopportune moments and its vulnerability to viruses.

The other obstacle may simply boil down to consumers failing to buy into the dream.

US analyst The Diffusion Group carried out a survey of 1,044 heads of households with internet access, and found just 35% felt comfortable with the idea of using a PC as a home entertainment center. Those over the age of 24 were especially resistant to the idea.

Bill has a lot more selling ahead.

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff