Microsoft’s bid to buy Yahoo!

The obligatory Microsoft-Yahoo! image

If you’ve been reading the news today, you’re likely aware of Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo!. When such rumours were discussed last year, I doubted the validity of the claims; however this time the hearsay was truth. Yahoo’s declining stock price and current business troubles may have also played a role in the bid actually taking place this time.

The obvious goal of this acquisition is to take on the behemoth that is Google. Steve Ballmer describes this tacitly in his e-mail to MS employees about the bid. Without mentioning Google, it’s clear that when he talks about being competitive in the online advertising arena, this means beating Google. Ballmer also noted that while Google has a 75% share in the paid-search advertising market, this also prevents them from acquiring Yahoo because of antitrust laws – how ironic of someone from Microsoft to note this. (Though they’re not completely in the clear.) Clearly, this leave Microsoft as the front-runner in a list of potential firms looking to buy Yahoo!.

I have mixed feelings about this development. Yahoo! is struggling to maintain confidence in its shareholders and likely needs the support of a larger company to continue on. Yahoo! has provided a lot of quality support to the open-source community through sites like their Developer Network. Resources like these are indispensable to web developers and also serve as a good starting point for someone looking to self-learn. It would be a shame to see these resources die or whither away because of the demise of Yahoo!.

On the other hand, I hope that under Microsoft, the same does not occur. In particular, I wonder about what Microsoft’s stance will be towards their use and embrace of open source, from PHP to their own JavaScript YUI Library, which has been released under a BSD license. Additionally, their Developer Network also has a wide range of tutorials and resources on many languages not under the Microsoft sphere-of-influence, such as PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, etc. All of these are great starting points to developing web services in those languages. Seeing these deteriorate under MS leadership would be no better than seeing them perish under a dying Yahoo!.

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