Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Businesses Microsoft

Microsoft and Yahoo Discussing Search Partnership 115

An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports that Microsoft and Yahoo are talking about a search engine partnership as they desperately try to come up with something, anything, to take on Google. 'Although there is no suggestion that Microsoft's failed bid will be resurrected, the two companies are believed to be discussing ways they can link up to combat the growing power of their chief rival, Google. Quoting sources close to the discussions, the authoritative Dow Jones All Things Digital blog said that "the talks between the pair are preliminary and wide-ranging."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft and Yahoo Discussing Search Partnership

Comments Filter:
  • first post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FCAdcock ( 531678 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:10PM (#27537429) Homepage Journal

    first post. guess nobody cares about this one.

    • by Samschnooks ( 1415697 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:39PM (#27537671)
      You misspelled it - it's frist pospt! God!

      You see, it's a technique. It takes years of practice. First, you drink a shit load of caffeine. Then, after it gets in your system, you bring up Slashdot. Then, and only then, you get in touch with your inner self, connect with the Universe, and connect with your higher power as you see Him.

      Now, type blindingly fast "First Post". Hopefully, it will come out fist5 posts. See how I did that?


      firsyt posts.


      Now, you try.

      • I got "fist poet."

    • Sounds like the time Microsoft and SGI collaborated on Fahrenheit. Nothing came of it, aside from Uncle Bills flying monkeys pulling the last relevant bits out of SGI's IP portfolio (OpenGL embraced/extended into DirectX). SGI plummeted afterwards since they had to acknowledged NT was way cooler than Irix. Yahoo....... Be careful. Keep your Intellectual Property close to chest. Sounds like a pirate boarding story from the Horn of Africa!
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:19PM (#27537493)
    that doesn't work, does it?

    Anyway, Google started with a search methodology that was dreamed up by two guys in their spare time. Obviously, it was a good one. Still, seems to me that Microsoft and Yahoo, with all their money and competent programmers, simply need to come up with a better one. Otherwise, what else can they bring to the table?
    • by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:42PM (#27537693)
      That's what I love about IT. All the money in the world won't necessarily beat a persistent and smart person.

      Even if you tie two rocks together, it doesn't mean they'll float. MS and Yahoo need to look into R&D, not merger - this move makes no sense.
      • Microsoft and Yahoo have been copying Google for the last 9 years, and yet their copies are still really poor and second rate.

        I use Google services, and will continue to use Google services, until Yahoo and Microsoft decides that maybe they need to improve quality and service to get customers.

        I use Adsense, Adwords, Maps, Gmail, Checkout, Froogle, Scholar, and others - and I spend a lot of money with them too. Compare these to the second rate copies, and Google is way better.

        Actually, the quality of Google

        • To be fair, Google Image Search is still shitty. Microsoft Live Image Search is nearly as useful in practice.

          Google cracked the text search problem and have the best email client ever. That doesn't mean they shit gold, or even close.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      Search quality isn't the only issue; Google is bringing in more advertising money (and at a higher rate). Yahoo! and Microsoft combined could well do better than either alone (all they have to do is convince advertising customers that they are providing better value).

      I don't use Yahoo! or Microsoft for searching much so I don't really have any idea, but I have heard at least rumblings that they aren't too far from what Google offers.

      • by wisty ( 1335733 )

        The danger is that search is not "Good Enough". Microsoft can't beat Linux servers because kernels are "Good Enough", but it can win in the office suite space.

        In a design problem like "search the web, and return the most popular and relevant sites from the input phrase", there is just not a lot of scope to make massive improvements. Google's pagerank algorithm was probably the only massive step. Nobody needs to switch, unless Google makes a really heinous mistake, like adopting a Twitter-like interface.

      • Well, as someone who uses Yahoo Search exclusively I can say for me Yahoo gives the better experience. It really is a shame that more folks don't try Yahoo Search because IMHO it has gotten better than Google. What makes it better is that little more button tab at the top. I can type in "the dark knight" and I get reviews, interviews,trailer, Heath Ledger, etc. The only problem is the GUI isn't intuitive if you aren't the "ooh what does THAT do?" type like I am.

        Most folks don't realize that little blue t

      • It has been a long time since Google was genuinely better in its search results. It was definitely revolutionary back in its day (which is why it killed off all competition so quickly), but by now the rest have caught up. It's now more an issue of usability and market penetration than anything else.

  • by Choozy ( 1260872 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:20PM (#27537499)
    Google is now synomonous with the internet. It would take an amazing search engine to be able to topple Google's power.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But what about CUIL []?! They sure spend like they're successful already!

    • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <> on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:27PM (#27537547)

      Google is now synomonous with the internet.

      Just a quick test: you google something, and nothing comes up. Is your first thought "I need to try another search site" or "I need to check my search terms"?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Choozy ( 1260872 )

        Just a quick test: you google something, and nothing comes up. Is your first thought "I need to try another search site" or "I need to check my search terms"?

        I'm not really sure what you are trying to imply. Just the term itself, "you google something" kinda prooves my point. When someone asks a question that you have no idea about, you don't say "I'll yahoo it" or "I'll MS Search it". Google (rightly or wrongly I'm not trying to defend them or say they are the best) are a household name. You know how much some companies pay to be household names?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tukang ( 1209392 )

        I wonder what a Yahoo user might say if you asked them the same question. Maybe people are more likely to use only 1 search engine - it's certainly easier to change your terms than to go to a new website.

        • by Jurily ( 900488 )

          it's certainly easier to change your terms than to go to a new website.

          In Opera and Konqueror switching search engines takes 2 mouse clicks.

          • That is also true of Firefox and IE, with the "Search Bar"
            I have 8 sites I can switch between in that bar right now.
        • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

          I have a feeling that, even some LISP etc. genius comes up with a real revolution (like the Google) overnight and change Yahoo, Ask, Live whatever engines to display neural networks/ AI enhanced excellent results, Google's share won't get hurt because people will keep clicking "Google".

          That is bad for state of the internet of course, no competition can't be good for anything.

          We pay $140 (family license) to OS X upgrades, I got 3 upgrades so far and I have to apply a very deep input manager hack to Safari, t

      • Google is now synomonous with the internet.

        Just a quick test: you google something, and nothing comes up. Is your first thought "I need to try another search site" or "I need to check my search terms"?

        That's right many times google maps screwed me taking me to dead ends, from then on i started using mapquest or yahoo maps

    • Hmm, I'm not sure. World-wide, Google dominates search industry worldwide and holds 60% - 75% of all the market. [] But Yahoo holds 12%-20% and Microsoft is at 4%-8%.

      So I don't think Google is totally synonimous with the internet.

  • by Froze ( 398171 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:22PM (#27537521)

    MS motive: Make money by throwing large amounts of MS branded crap (with some useful stuff) at you and hope your willing to pay to have it cleaned up so you can keep the bits you like.

    Google motive: Make money by throwing large amounts of information at you with some of revenue targeted information you may be interested in.

    Until MS turns it model around and starts giving people what they want first and then cashing in on that association, they won't beat the trend that Google has going, unless Google turns around and start sending you crap first.

  • ...although, as to which is which, your guess is as good as mine.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:27PM (#27537549)

    Only instead of Peanut Butter and Chocolate, they look to combine used motor oil in a crunchy shell of glass shards.

    Metaphorically speaking.

  • Turns up "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!" as the first result.
    • In a Virtual Windows machine, as I got all stock IE etc. for testing, I remember not being able to find "dotnetfx 3.5 download" via live search. Results coming up were trojans. I ended up going to MS downloads site directly, completely in shock.

      Another thing. If you even hear live search is great, better and use Safari, Firefox, you won't feel like going there since you will have a feeling that it will work bad for your browser. I guess that is exact reason why MS wants to partner with Yahoo who never creat

  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:35PM (#27537623) Homepage

    I bought a new drive namely WD WD1001FALS, as all new drives, I fired up Safari and entered exactly these search terms: WD1001FALS specs

    All I had was bunch of clever search optimization geniuses trying to sell me drive and some really annoying google search spammers. I gave up after 5th page and went to Western Digital directly.

    Yahoo search gives some market results too but they seem to be legit search results with known reviewers like PC World. Perhaps Google has become so big that it started to hurt them seriously? I guess everyone out there tries to hack their results and become somewhat successful. There is no mechanism to easily tell Google that they are spammers too. Don't even bother telling me about feedback form.

    I had another experience where searching for Avast Antivirus (which is extremely popular freeware) on Windows ended up with actual virus/trojan results while Yahoo search gives better results, at least no malware (they got some scanner in search). It really bugged me because it was a completely unprotected Windows fresh installation. Imagine some newbie actually trusting those results.

    • When I tried it (also in Safari) the first link was the Western Digital page [] on the HD...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by macshit ( 157376 )

        Yup, me too -- exact same search terms, and the first link on google is precisely what the grandparent says he wanted.

        It's a bit mystifying really; I regularly see claims in slashdot comments about how awful google is these days, and yet this bears absolutely no resemblance to my own experience -- for me, google's results are extremely good, perhaps even better now than in the past (and certainly leagues ahead of crap like MSN live search).

        I'm not sure how to reconcile this ... some possibilities come to

        • Google bots read /. and adjust the results.
        • Google does geolocation and somehow gives better results for my location than theirs (they probably do know where I am, but it seems a bit far-fetched to explain the differences)

          Among other things, Google by defaults redirects to the "localized" domain. E.g. if you go to from a Canadian IP, you'll end up at And search results between them actually do differ, sometimes quite a lot.

          • No they don't.

            I am clearly on a Canadian IP, yet I have to specifically enter Google dot ca to go to the local site; even then, it defaults to "Search Entire Web" which is exactly the same results as Google dot com. To get the localized links (in all Google's localized incarnations) you have to click "search pages from Canada" and that's a non-sticky option.

            This behaviour is consistent over 3 incompatible OS's and multiple machines from multiple ISPs. I don't, however, use IE on any of them, including the W

            • No they don't.

              I am clearly on a Canadian IP, yet I have to specifically enter Google dot ca to go to the local site; even then, it defaults to "Search Entire Web" which is exactly the same results as Google dot com. To get the localized links (in all Google's localized incarnations) you have to click "search pages from Canada" and that's a non-sticky option.

              This behaviour is consistent over 3 incompatible OS's and multiple machines from multiple ISPs. I don't, however, use IE on any of them, including the Windows XP Pro one.

              I would expect that some app (probably the browser) on your system is reading your OS-wide localization settings, and doing the redirect "for you". It's definitely not Google.

              I also had the same experience in Russia - I was always getting redirected from to And that was on an English windows, with language preference set to "English (US)" in browser settings - so it definitely does geolocation at least for some regions. That also happened between multiple computers, OS installations, and ISPs, and I know that it is essentially common knowledge that it does that.

              I've also checked my settings now, and regardless of whether I set preferred language to "en-US"

              • I do not doubt that you are being redirected. My point is it's not Google.

                " ... regardless of whether I set preferred language to "en-US" or "en-CA" in browser setting ..."

                Were that the only way to determine where you were, you would be on to something. But, alas, no self-respecting application or entity is going to rely on something so easily altered by the user.

                Anyone online can determine your location via your IP address, which is assigned based on what country you are in, for one, and assigned to an IS

                • Sorry ... it WAS there when I previewed it, must have inadvertently edited it out.

                  " ... That's an obvious proof that they use simple scripts and read it from the IP address; see [] (Scroll Down)

                • I do not doubt that you are being redirected. My point is it's not Google.

                  Look, yes, it is Google. Like I said, it happens for everyone in Russia that I know, all the time, regardless of ISP, OS, locale, or browser and browser settings. I've also observed it in NZ and Canada first-hand - again, on various OSes, browsers, and so on.

                  If it doesn't happen for you, it may indicate some difference in your configuration. But it is something very well-known, and consistently happening for a large number of people. The simplest explanation, without getting into conspiracy theories, is tha

                  • " ... The simplest explanation, without getting into conspiracy theories, is that Google does that at least for some regions, and that they use geolocation to do so. ..."

                    I appreciate your confidence in the face of evidence to the contrary, but none the less you are wrong. I have, however, found out the answer.

                    You are being redirected because you remain logged into your Google account (gmail, etc), and Google is using the preferences you have saved with your Google account. Log out and you will not be redire

                    • " ... Log out and you will not be redirected, regardless of where in Canada you live. ..."

                      Sorry, should have tested it a bit more. Once you log in, the first time you go to a Google search page, it's saved in your Google cookies, so that after that instance, whether you are logged in or not, the redirection persists.

                      I never remain logged into my Google account, and therefore have never tried to search while logged in, which is why it did not redirect me, ruling out geolocation (because by definition that me

                    • It is interesting; however, my Google profile still doesn't indicate which country I'm in (well, maybe it does, but I haven't updated it as I moved around). So, apparently, they still use geolocation - though, as you rightly point out, only for people who are logged in.

                      It also explains why so many that people I know also observe this behavior - they all have an active GMail account.

        • It's called astroturfing. It's cheaper to pay pennies to people to troll message boards than it is to actually fix Windows Live Search, I mean "Kumo".
          • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

            You mean my message is astroturfing? There is no way that one can be questioning Google search quality? Also yes, search results are really changing, it is not 1998, everyone doesn't get same search results.

            I personally see 4-6 search engine spammers. I don't even get into the deep hacks required to make my default OS X browser (Safari) change to another search engine as a person who keeps paying to each OS X major upgrade.

            You have some real stuff going on there accusing slashdot users as Bangalore spammers

        • by njahnke ( 757694 )
          are you signed in to your gmail account - or to some other google service in that internet cafe? if so then google is customizing your search results. i always get results i clicked on before as top hits for my searches due to being signed in to gmail all the time.
    • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @08:50PM (#27538177) Homepage

      When I punched your search terms into Google, the first result I get back is the (Western Digital's site) page for that model of drive. Second result is a questionable tech site, third result is a PCWorld review of the drive. I suspect the problem is on your end, not Google's.

      • Potentially there's some sort of trojan/DNS hacking going on there. My sister just ran into this, where her ISP's DNS server seemed to have been hijacked, and all her google search results were ad links. A switch to the OpenDNS server fixed that, and a couple of sweeps of her computer came up with nothing.
        There are also a few trojans which will modify the hosts file, to point to a google-lookalike page, where every query comes up ads.

        • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

          In fact, I use OpenDNS down to DSL Modem's level. It is not DNS or even some spyware, it is Google's management is horrible in certain areas of World and there is no way to easily report search result hackers.

          There is a huge industry to make your site appear on top of other results.

          They sure have the technology and knowledge to make users report spammy results but somehow, they don't care to code into it. If I logon to my Google account and search same terms, results are somehow better thanks to my profilin

        • Possible. One difference: I use Firefox, not IE. All the people I know of who get weird results from Google have one thing in common: they use IE. Not everybody using IE gets bad results, but the bad results seem confined to the one browser on the market with the absolute worst track record for security. It's possible that some malware infiltrates IE and redirects searches or messes with the search terms behind the scenes.

  • "This [search] is the feces that is produced when shame eats too much stupidity."

    Seriously, MS isn't about to make Yahoo! their default search over MSN. Yahoo isn't about to cede traffic over to MSN, even indirectly by lending their search backend to make MSN not suck as much. And along those lines, MSN is so terrible that 95% of people go out of their way ignore it [] even though it is the default in IE.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Microsoft already bought a better search engine (as in engine, not as in implementation) last year -- FAST.
      They're not after the Yahoo search engine, they are after the user base.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by Bert690 ( 540293 )
        FAST ?! You mean that company that was a front for a bunch of norwegian scammers that tricked MS into buying it? Also known as the "Enron of Norway"? Surely you jest.
    • I believe you mean Dale Gribble [].
  • "the talks between the pair are preliminary and wide-ranging."' and hopeless.
  • Twitter.

    Twitter provides realtime search. It shows intent [] realtime. It shows trends []. It's faster than the news media and blogs [], and, with a 140 character limit, it cuts to the chase. And it's growing like crazy [].

    MS and / or Yahoo should be looking at Twitter seriously. It's the real deal.

    • MS and / or Yahoo should be looking at Twitter seriously. It's the real deal.

      You're on the right track, but why should Microsoft or Yahoo buy Twitter while both of them have their instant messengers? Add a little paragraph to their EULA saying that all user content belongs to them(if they haven't already, and most people will just click through it anyway) and they have the equivalent of a million Twitters' user data and conversations to strip-mine to their heart's content!

      Consolidation of both userbases would be the only thing out of a merger which would make sense!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rinkjustice ( 24156 ) *
        Clever idea. But it's not Twitter.

        While there are many mimickers on the scene (Plurk and Yapp come immediately to mind), Twitter seems to have reached critical mass - the Bandwagon effect so to speak. Everyone is on it, and if you're not, you're a crusty, cantankerous old person (no matter what age you really are). Big brands and small businesses are leveraging Twitter as a cost effective social media tool. News media like CNN are amassing huge followings. Pre-teens are on it. It has a more dynamic interf

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wisty ( 1335733 )

      Twitter search will only be good while the spammers stay off. Which means it can never be too popular.

    • Sorry but I want to find out about the use of dry erase markers on laminated material.

      Google Returned a semi useful article [] that I could actually gleam some info from.

      Twitter on the other hand returned no results. Even after simplifying my terms to "drawing on laminated material" I still didn't find anything. Twitter is just another fad for the hive minders.

      PS: Does anyone know of what type of material I can use dry erase markers on? I was looking at laminate and foam board as the white boards are to

  • by AnalPerfume ( 1356177 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:59PM (#27537863)
    When Google were sniffing around Yahoo, Microsoft complained that a monopoly (in online advertising) was "a bad deal for the consumer". They then release the lobbying hounds to Washington and ensure that any deal is blocked as "anti-competitive". Like most sane people, I agree with them that monopolies are bad for the consumer. Considering their own monopolies on desktop OS's people can buy in stores, and office suites I'd love the same tools to be turned back on Microsoft now. I'd love Google to lobby Washington with the exact same argument Microsoft used. Having said that, politicians decisions are more to do with who is bought than any rightness of a cause.

    I'd love to see Microsoft waste money on yet another falling star, try to get market share by acquisition rather than providing a product / service people actually want. Business as usual really. This time round they may not want all of Yahoo, but only cherry pick parts of it. The part that I'd draw attention to is Zimbra. We all know how Microsoft love competition to their flagship earners, so any Yahoo deal will involve the destruction of Zimbra as we know it. Does anyone know offhand how well placed Zimbra is license wise to fork if / when the hammer of Redmond strikes?
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @08:05PM (#27537919) Journal

    It's only very slightly worse than Google, nowadays. Microsoft's, on the other hand, is still crap on a stick, and it's not worth spending time talking about.

    So, returning to Yahoo: at this point, what Yahoo needs is a better image, as the search engine itself, in its core, is fine. And to improve their image, Yahoo might want to tone down the "noise" that their site seems to throw at the users. Also, Yahoo should do a real effort to actually unify all those services inside of "My Yahoo". As it is now, "My Yahoo" is utterly useless, and the various Yahoo services seem to be kept together with spit or nothing. MOstly nothing.

    For an example of the "Yahoo noise" I was talking about, just see Yahoo Messenger. I hate that shit with passion (but am forced to use it 'cause my GF likes it, and is convinced that the "connection is better than with Skype").

    That said, Yahoo services are less "noisy" than Hotmail and the resto of MSN.

    • Totally agree. Yahoo's front page has to go, and they need to bring their awesome properties like delicious, Yahoo pipes and flickr to the forefront. That's where the coolness is.

    • Good point Yahoos engine nowadays is excellent, but they lost to Google the same way Altavista was pushed into oblivion.

      In other words, stop throwing crap at people who do only want to do a websearch. Altavista lost because their site was full of unrelated advertising crap and their search results suddenly reflected how much money a customer wanted to pay for being ranked high.

      Yahoo looses because it throws too much crap at people while they simply want a search field and results!

      The funny thing is, yahoo d

      • I agree that Yahoo should clean up and just offer search results when people ask for that. I do think they still can be a portal, if they keep it simple and well-integrated, rather than forcing their users to search for bits and pieces of Yahoo, in a sea of shit they don't need (I'd like to have access to yahoo groups and calendar, and perhaps an easy way to add babelfish - but no, you can't have that! But here's the weather in bananaland, for the next 7 days, that'll be something I need, surely.)

        Also, I ag

  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @08:41PM (#27538111)
    It would appear, to me, this is similar to the class bully and that kid who should be on the short bus getting together in an effort to win the science fair competition.

    While it works in 80's movies with a mediocre soundtrack for the montage scene, I'm at a loss as to how John Hughes would resolve this in the final act.
  • IMHO, the mistake of both Microsoft and Yahoo is to think that this is merely a war for market share, and that they can win by simply duplicating whatever google does.

    In fact, this is more of an innovation war: users won't switch to whatever microsoft/yahoo partnership offers unless it does something that people find useful AND that google has not implemented yet.
  • I can understand why this would happen, it's still stupid though. Microsoft's search is an abortion of technology and Yahoo is a Search Directory, how they intend on improving their search tech with a directory site I don't know, but it's guaranteed to be a failed attempt. Hell, I used to run a directory site when I was a teenager (one site even requested to be added to it)! It was nothing more than page after page of lists of links, much like Yahoo was when they first started out. The only difference is th

  • Ok, so what is surprising about this? Microsoft had an active hand in ousting the Yahoo CEO, and a 'partnership' is news?

    It's more like the Borg.... 'you WILL be assimilated, resistance is futile.'

  • by gentlemen_loser ( 817960 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:48AM (#27539551) Homepage
    'Although there is no suggestion that Microsoft's failed bid will be resurrected, the two companies are believed to be discussing ways they can link up to combat the growing power of their chief rival, Google.

    "Their" chief rival... Really? Microsoft is primarily an OS/Office suite vendor. If you had to define the essence of their core business model - that's it. I never understood why Microsoft has singled out Google as an enemy that has to be defeated, as opposed to someone to collaborate with. Yahoo, well, that makes perfect sense - Google has been beating the pants off of them for years. However, Microsoft's shareholders would be better served if they focused on making OS and productivity software that does not suck, as opposed to spending millions of dollars indexing and storing data to make an inferior product to dump more marketing dollars on to compete with a company operating in a different market segment. Why go through all that effort to reinvent the wheel?

    It sure must be nice for Ballmer to have a stockpile of money worthy of Scrooge McDuck to piss away on pet projects...
  • The only people I've ever known to use yahoo or msn where people who didn't know about googles existence.

  • Why are computer business people so brilliant yet so retarded at the same time? Trying to topple Google is like trying to topple World of Warcraft. It's just not going to happen unless the company does something suicidal with their product. The best way to 'compete' against monolithic things like that isn't about direct competition but instead about offering something different.
  • Ok given my site is programmers centric, but the IE rate fell below 17% on this site absolute.
    Programmers usually are 2 years in front of the general public. As it seems they should give up trying to pull crap with IE (even with IE8 they tried to pull crap saying ACID3 is not standards while it clearly is, there is no HTML5 in ACID3 and then scoring measly 17% while even Fox3 scored around 70%)

    They have lost the web programmers in the mindshare clearly and as it seems even in the general public Mozilla has

  • As Microsoft's search engine share sunk to its lowest level yet in February, with approximately 8 to 9 queries total worldwide [], Steve Ballmer has reiterated his willingness to hook up with Yahoo! and its 21 queries worldwide.

    The press conference was held on a street corner in San Francisco as Mr Ballmer and Jerry Yang sat with their hats on the sidewalk and playing harmonicas with a "WILL WEBSEARCH FOR FOOD" sign behind them.

    "Understandably, we expect less activity in the Great Recession," said Mr Ballmer. "Nobody knows what value assets should be ... say, you aren't finished with that cigarette, are you?"

    Press attendees included a schizophrenic local resident in a tinfoil hat ("to keep Google out"), two teenagers drunk on malt liquor and a policeman keeping an eye on things from a distance. The teenagers taunted, confused and upset Mr Ballmer by suggesting he attempt to locate his own posterior.

    "My new search technology is unstoppable! Just look at this netbook!" shouted Mr Ballmer, waving an Etch-a-Sketch in a threatening manner. "IT'S MAUVE! IT RUNS WINDOWS SEVEN! LINUX PUT A RADIO IN MY HEAD! I'LL SHOW 'EM ALL! BASTARDS!"

    "Some love stories are eternal," said Mr Yang. "Romeo and Juliet. Heloise and Abelard. Leopold and Loeb. Microsoft and Yahoo."

  • Microsoft getting into the search engine business is like trying to get GM to partner with Ferrari.

    There's money to be made elsewhere, and MS, you seem to have been doing a pretty damn good job of it. You already conquer the Office suite market in the corporate world, and you act like you're sitting here scratching your head as to what to bring to the cloud through your own portal? Give me a break. I think people could probably remember how to get to without having to search for it.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10