MicroHoo: And then there were two

What's left to say about the Microsoft-Yahoo ad deal? How about, "So long Yahoo, it was nice knowin' ya"

After what seems like a decade of fumbling foreplay, Yahoo and Microsoft finally did the dirty deed.

All I can say is, thank God that's over with. Now we can get back to more important matters, like bucketloads of rumors about an Apple Tablet and Paris Hilton's deep remorse over that sex tape everyone had almost forgotten about, which is why she's bringing it up again.

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It's certainly better than Microsoft owning Yahoo outright, which I think would have been a friggin' disaster for consumers (though the resulting mishegas would have been fun to watch -- from a distance).

As for the details of the deal, as near as I can determine, Yahoo search will really be Bing search, Yahoo will sell Microsoft's ads using Microsoft's technology and collect most of the money, and Steve Ballmer agrees not to chuck any Herman Miller chairs at Carol Bartz provided she doesn't call him an @$$#0[3!!!

Did I miss anything?

No matter, because the topic has already been covered to death by the blogosphere, and the story isn't even 24 hours old yet. Here are some of the highlights.

PC World's Todd Weiss brings up the ugly specter of the Time Warner AOL deal, simultaneously killing the appetites of everyone in Sunnyvale and Redmond:

Before teaming with Time Warner, AOL was the king of the Internet, as we all clamored to have slow, software-laden Internet access at $2.99 an hour like the good consumer lemmings we were in those days. But then cheaper, faster access arrived with DSL, cable and all-you-can-use plans, but AOL and stodgy Time Warner couldn't react quickly enough. There's a lesson here. Bigger isn't always better. I read that in a fortune cookie. I could have saved Time Warner and AOL a lot of money if I'd have told them that. Hey, Microsoft and Yahoo, are you listening?

Ad revenue, schmad revenue, says Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan, quoted in BusinessWeek. It's all about the data -- and that's where Redmond wins big:

...Microsoft will nevertheless reap a reward that's more valuable in the long run. The data on computer users' online search and buying habits would ultimately reside on Microsoft's computers, thereby improving its ability to automatically serve up the most relevant ads. "If Microsoft is running the underlying ad technology, it doesn't matter who is selling the ads," Sullivan says. "In the end, Microsoft will hold all the cards."

Fast Company's Kim Eaton thinks this deal finally makes Bing a contendah for Google's crown.

Like no other deal before, and possibly unlike any other search engine that's surfaced over the years, this positions Bing as a serious competitor to Google--still the number one search engine by an enormous margin. As Microsoft's Steve Ballmer puts it: "This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search."

eSarcasm's JR Raphael ran the Microsoft-Yahoo press release through his patented BS 2.0 detector, translating eight key points of the agreement into language we can all understand. (Point #3: "Microsoft’s barely-making-a-blip-on-the-radar-despite-a-silly-name-change search platform will finally be able to make some cash by having more than 14 people using it every day.")

Meanwhile, if you want a peek at what form a Microsoft-Yahoo collaboration might take (or, for that matter, "the future of search"), check out the horsey-looking, awkwardly named joint site they set up: ChoiceValueInnovation. If that's the best these guys can do, Google has nothing to fear.

Finally, the Guardian's Charles Arthur is also reminded of the whole AOL-Time Warner fiasco, and says that ain't good news for Yahoo fans:

The suspicion is that Yahoo, like AOL, is going to find itself hollowed out. Bartz in the phone call emphasized that, freed of the tedious binds of having to run a search engine, Yahoo can focus on "mobile".

Um, sure. As the analyst Michael Gartenberg put it succinctly (yes, <140char):

Q: What do you get when you cross Yahoo with Microsoft?

A: Microsoft.

Ah Yahoo, we hardly knew ye.

Is the Microhoo news a good deal for anybody? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.