Microsoft - get your gas here...

Forget London Electricity, if you're after cheap gas look no further than Microsoft.

According to Texaco's chairman and chief executive, Peter Bijur, Microsoft boss Bill Gates plans to supply gas, electricity, cable and telephone services provided by sub-contractors to the "intelligent" homes of the future.

Building on brand image and embracing diversification may play a key role in "shaping the future of oil companies" according to Bijur in his address to the World Energy Congress in Houston. Bijur expects the distinction between oil, gas and electricity will blur as new competitors, such as Microsoft, offered customers units of power from a variety of sources.

"If oil companies do not think as broadly as Sprint and Microsoft, they will be reduced to the role of low margin bulk suppliers," he warned.