It's potentially the biggest internet deal for many years, with financial analysts considering what impact Microsoft's proposed takeover of Yahoo will have on the IT industry. But we want to know how the acquisition would affect end users.
So we've put together our list of the pros and cons of the deal, looking forward a few years to see what changes Microsoft could make to Yahoo, and how they affect the internet giant's services.
It's the year 2010. Microsoft owns Yahoo and has just changed the name of Flickr to Microsoft Flickr Live Photo-Sharing Service for Digital Camera Enthusiasts. The service is still free, but Windows Vista users will have to validate their copy of Vista as 'genuine' first to use it. What has Microsoft wrought?
That's just one of the nightmares we can foresee from a Microsoft-Yahoo merger. But some good things could ensue for computer users too. Here's what we'd love - and hate - to see happen.
Love: Sending a wake-up call to Google
Google has been untouchable in many aspects when it comes to search, web innovations and free cool services such as Google Maps. But perhaps Google has grown too complacent. While we are waiting to see what becomes of Google's mobile strategy, we're less enthralled by services such as Knol. We want to see the combined force of Microsoft and Yahoo give Google an honest run for its money when it comes to innovative online services.
Hate: Goodbye, beloved services
The shuttering of Yahoo or MSN services is something we'd hate to see (actually, we wouldn't shed any tears over Windows Live), but it's inevitable some will get the axe, given the overlapping services owned by Microsoft and Yahoo. The merged company would simply create too many redundant services and the odds are some of our beloved services would be killed. Branded services such as Yahoo Mail and Hotmail would survive, but there is a good chance they'd share one development team. Over time the services would become virtually identical, sharing features, functions, bugs and limitations. Microsoft's instant messaging system sneezes, for example, and Yahoo Messenger catches a cold.
Love: Yahoo boosts Microsoft Live
We think both behemoths could learn a lot from the other especially when it comes to the look, feel and usability of web pages and services. We'd like to see Windows Live integrated into simpler interfaces. Right now there is Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live Small Business. Both are not tied to directly either to the Windows operating system or Microsoft Office. Both Microsoft Live sites seem so disconnected.
Yahoo was best in the early days at keeping the interface simple on services such as Yahoo Travel. Today's Yahoo can't match the minimalism of many Google offerings, but it still has designs that are simpler and easier to use than many counterparts at Microsoft.
Hate: Microsoft Yahoo chaos
Combining the two giants will create confusion. Could you use your MSN Messenger ID to login to Yahoo Mail? Will your Passport be accepted at Yahoo's border?
Love: Über media site
We'd like to see MSN-Yahoo team with NBC (and related partners) and a variety of internet TV startups to make a one-stop destination for video content. Good sites such as Hulu.com and other web-based video on demand sites are spread across the web in a hodgepodge manner with no central site to serve as an online media master.
Yahoo is much more a traditional media company than Google at this stage and already offers great text and some TV news. Couple Yahoo with MSN and Microsoft's web technologies (such as Silverlight) and you could see the web's first media powerhouse.
Hate: Two big brothers are worse than one
Google is looking to gobble up DoubleClick, which has some not so positive privacy implications. Now if Microsoft buys Yahoo what Google doesn't know about you Microsoft will. It just is a bit too creepy to think of our digital footprints being so completely tracked. Live Search, Flickr, Yahoo News, MSN Lifestyle channel - with all its data it would have on us, Microsoft could come up with a personalised probability data feed that might be shockingly accurate.
Love: A true search competitor
Yahoo and MSN will finally give Google a run for its money when it comes to search. Google owns 57 percent of the search engine market and Yahoo and Microsoft own together 34 percent, according to Search Engine Watch. Given the combined search know-how of Microsoft and Yahoo we'd like to see both breathe some new life into search technology. Yahoo already has some interesting tools such as Search Assistant and Shortcuts that can make searching easier than Google. Check out Microsoft's Live Search Club to see how Live Search is getting smarter. Together we'd like to see Microsoft and Yahoo make search results more relevant and smarter.
Love: Amobile marriage
Microsoft and Yahoo combined would have a dynamite mobile offering without much heavy lifting. We'd like to see a marriage of Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system and its mobile business focus merged with Yahoo. We love Yahoo's mobile offerings and its mobile search, maps and email. Yahoo already has close ties to mobile carriers so it might not take long for the strengths of both mobile teams to trickle down to our cell phones.
Hate: A mobile monopoly
If the mobile offerings from Micro-hoo are too strong, they could strangle Google's Android mobile operating system at birth. And that would be a shame, since the open-source effort promises users a more customisable phone than they've ever had. Fortunately, Android has some significant backers of its own and a nascent developers' community (Mobile Handset Alliance). But given Microsoft's industry clout and its cutthroat competitive spirit and Yahoo's cozy relationship with carriers, Google's Android platform could be in for a big fight.
Love: Yahoo Maps get less lame
Live Maps seems to be one of the few Microsoft web apps that are actually good, and it may actually be better than Google Maps. (It certainly seems more up to date.) Meanwhile, Yahoo Maps suffers from a lame interface and more limited view options.
Neither Yahoo Mail nor Hotmail is all that compelling on its own, but if Hotmail's new interface were applied to Yahoo's mail service (which doesn't kill your account so quickly if you don't log in), it might actually be worth using.
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