Multiple reliable sources are reporting that Microsoft and Yahoo have finalized a deal to work together on search and advertising, and it’ll be announced tomorrow. It’s not the merger that Microsoft wasted an immense amount of time on last year, and it’s apparently not as sweeping an arrangement as some folks thought the company would strike. But it’s still a big deal.
For consumers, the major net effect will apparently be that Bing (or some variant thereof) will power Yahoo’s search. Unless you love Yahoo’s current engine or hate Bing, that’s nothing to fear, and it won’t have a major impact on your life. (Or any impact at all if, like the majority of folks, you do your searching at Google.)
For Yahoo, it’s yet another new search strategy. (Once upon a time, the company outsourced search to Google, then decided it was a core part of its business and built its own search engine; now it’s once again something it’s decided it can outsource.) For Microsoft, it helps scratch the must-take-on-Google itch that the company’s had trouble taking care of.
I still think that when the history of Microsoft is written ten or twenty years from now, it’ll be obvious that search engines and Web advertising were distractions that kept the company from focusing on its real businesses–operating systems, programming tools, productivity software, and a few other related related areas. For now, though, both Microsoft and Yahoo can end their odd tango and move ahead with a partnership. And we tech journalists who have spent a year and a half writing about all this get more time to devote to other, more concrete matters. Like, for instance, the existence or nonexistence of an Apple tablet that’ll be released either in September or sometime next year…