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Microsoft offers bid for Yahoo, web sucks less. | Friday, February 1st, 2008

Microsoft has offered to buy the search engine company Yahoo for $44.6bn in cash and shares.

The offer, contained in a letter to Yahoo's board, is 62% above Yahoo's closing share price on Thursday.

Yahoo cut its revenue forecasts earlier this week and said it would have to spend an additional $300m this year trying to revive the company.

It has been struggling in recent years to compete with Google, which has also been a competitor to Microsoft.

If you would've asked me how I felt about this a couple years ago, I would've jumped on the anti-MS bandwagon with everyone else and worried that Microsoft would ruin Yahoo and her spin-offs, but today, Yahoo is the company that needs to be saved - and why not by Microsoft?

I mean, they ruined Flickr by forcing everyone to get barcodes Yahoo IDs, no one cares about all of their other web properties since they suck the big one even more, and their reputation isn't quite what it used to be either.

Microsoft, on the other hand, isn't the monolithic corporate asshole they used to be [portrayed as]. They do more Good Things(tm) around the world than Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Sony put together - both on and off the web - and their privacy policy, a topic near and dear to my heart, is far better than any of the aforementioned companies as well.

And that's just the philosophical side. Practically, they've been doing some great work too. They make interfaces; it's what Microsoft does, and they do it well. Look at the Xbox 360; it has the best-looking, most usable interface of any of the current gaming consoles. Sony's is a cubist's wet dream but is clunky and unmanageable, and Nintendo's is a rip-off of Apple circa 2001. Vista sells many times more copies than OS X not only because more computers run it, or because of established base, but because it's a better out-of-the-box user experience than OS X (or, yes, Linux). I'm a die-hard Linux user, but even I will admit that it does take some tweaking and learning to get a better user experience than either OS X or Vista.

From that angle, what Microsoft could do to turn around Yahoo's bleak outlook is an interesting question indeed.

This Linux using, open-source-preaching, Drupal-building commie bastard sees Microsoft as one of the most important pieces of building a better, free-er, open Internet.