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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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November 26, 2008 9:44 AM

Microsoft Internet search share stable in October; Fortune scrutinizes online business

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft held stead in October with 8.5 percent of the U.S. Internet search market, according to figures released today by comScore. Its rivals, Google and Yahoo, both gained slightly from their September positions.

Meanwhile, Fortune has taken a stab at answering the question, "Why can't Microsoft make money online?"

It's a touchy question. The company didn't give Adam Lashinksy any executive interviews for the story, and when a Microsoft exec was approached with the question at an industry event, "he argued that Microsoft is all that stands between Google and the destruction of ad-supported media as we know it.

" 'We're doing this for you,' he snapped, jabbing his finger into the sternum of a startled Fortune writer."

Ouch.

As the comScore figures illustrate, Microsoft's Internet search share remained in the cellar in October.

Google: 63.1 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from September

Yahoo: 20.5 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from September
Microsoft: 8.5 percent, unchanged from September

Lashinsky points out the manifold challenges Microsoft faces with its Internet business, not least of which is the confusing leadership structure and vacancy at the top.

"[T]he five [top Online leaders] all report to CEO Ballmer, who temporarily took over from Kevin Johnson -- who has yet to be replaced. Now that Yahoo's board has retained a search firm to find that company a new CEO, two of the highest-profile online jobs in the industry are vacant, which can only complicate matters for Microsoft."

Lots of questions continue to roil the online space. Here's some additional commentary worth checking out:

Yahoo investor and president of Minyanville Media, Kevin Wassong, weighs in on what Yahoo should do ("stick to [its] knitting") and whether Microsoft should buy the Internet company. (Wasn't that question made moot, again, last week?) He doesn't offer an opinion on whether a search partnership would be good for either company.

Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Alley Insider does: "Yahoo should do a a search deal with Microsoft now, if only so it can focus on its strengths -- on and off network advertising to its tremendously large audience."

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