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Microsoft turns its attentions to Facebook

Wall Street Journal predicts a merger

After abandoning its plans to purchase Yahoo, Microsoft has now turned its attentions to the social-networking site Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper's website reports that Microsoft has informally approached Facebook to ask whether the company might be interested in selling, although the two companies are not thought to be in official talks regarding a deal.

Microsoft already owns a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook following an investment of $240m (£120m) last year, but analysts aren't convinced that acquiring the website would give a sufficiently large boost to Microsoft's online efforts to make the deal worthwhile.

"Facebook is another property in which Microsoft can sell adverts, but it doesn't move the ball toward the goal line in terms of competing with Google," Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, told Forbes.com.

According to Rebecca Jennings, an analyst with Forrester, Microsoft and Facebook have "fundamentally different cultures".

"Facebook was set up primarily as a services business, whereas Microsoft's origins are as a software and technology company," she told The Times.

If Microsoft does push forward with this deal, it will face opposition from Facebook's thousands of members. At least five Facebook groups have already been set up in protest against the merger, including If Facebook sells to Microsoft, we're leaving and Don't sell Facebook to Microsoft!

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