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"Bill Gates is rich enough to buy NBC," says TIME's Philip Elmer-DeWitt. "But he doesn't make purchases recklessly. He doesn't buy just to get bigger. Everything is part of an integrated plan." That plan may include a partnership with NBC. After a report last week that Microsoft might invest in NBC's planned 24-hour news service, the rumors grew that Gates was after bigger game. A report in Variety said that Microsoft was considering buying as much as 49 percent of NBC in a deal that could cost in excess of $4 billion. A Microsoft spokesman would not comment on any negotiations. For Gates, says Elmer-DeWitt, such a deal would make sense in the long term. "A purchase of part of NBC would offer Microsoft a big boost of content for its Microsoft network, not now, but for later on, when bandwidth has expanded to deliver full-motion video online. His strategy is always to line up proprietary content, and either keep that content within his system or make it open and charge a fee for every access."