Yahoo will strive to grow its search market share, which is a top priority, by taking advantage of the opportunities the deal affords it to innovate independently on its search result pages, she said.
"There's a clear upside potential here, and it's time to execute against it," she said.
Microsoft and Yahoo signed their 10-year search deal in mid-2009 and got regulatory clearance for it in early 2010. However, for a variety of reasons both technical and operational, the partnership hasn't yielded the expected results.
When the deal was struck, Yahoo and Microsoft believed it would allow them to better compete against Google, which dominates search usage and advertising, but Google has maintained its position.
At a general level, the deal puts Microsoft in charge of Web crawling, indexing and ranking, and of self-serve, pay-per-click ad sales. Yahoo, on the other hand, agreed to pay Microsoft a commission for paid clicks on its own sites and partner sites, and to be in charge of selling premium, guaranteed search ads for both companies.
When the deal was signed, Yahoo estimated that, when fully implemented, the arrangement would boost its annual operating income by about $500 million, provide capital expenditure savings of about $200 million and increase annual operating cash flow by about $275 million.
Mayer also said she's committed to Yahoo's content business -- both to its user-generated sites, such as Yahoo Answers, and to its professional content sites, which feature videos, photos and articles from partner media companies and Yahoo journalists. Improving personalization of content and ads is key for Yahoo, she said.
At a corporate culture level, she said that she has pushed for a new emphasis on transparency and open dialogue with employees, putting in place tools to encourage feedback, systems to remove bureaucracy and new and aligned performance measurements for the company and its employees.
"These new systems are working to improve our execution," she said.
Mayer said another priority is to hire the best people available, so it's important to make Yahoo an attractive place to work. Already there are signs that this is happening, based on the increasing number of talented people expressing an interest in joining Yahoo, and on the rising number of startups wanting to be acquired, she said.
Since coming on board, Mayer has revamped Yahoo's C-level suite, appointing new people to the chief operating officer, CFO, general counsel, and chief marketing officer positions.
She became Yahoo's third CEO in less than a year when she got the job in July. Carol Bartz, appointed in January 2009, was let go in September of last year after the board lost confidence in her ability to turn the struggling company around. Her replacement, Scott Thompson, a former PayPal president, only served between January and May of this year, leaving in the midst of a controversy about his college education credentials. Yahoo was then led by interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, a Yahoo executive vice president who left shortly after Mayer's arrival.
Yahoo has been in a years-long financial and technology slump, going through several executive shake-ups and rounds of layoffs. It will be interesting to see if Mayer is the one who can finally lead Yahoo to recapture its leadership position in the Internet market, steering the company in a way that maximizes the potential many believe it still has.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.