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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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January 8, 2009 6:53 PM

Ballmer addresses Yahoo search deal questions in CES interviews

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Nearly a full year has passed since Microsoft opened its campaign to acquire Yahoo, and later, just its Internet search business. In interviews published today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave his latest thinking on the matter appears to has changed little in months: He's interested in buying just Yahoo's search business.

Ina Fried of CNET News asked Ballmer, How likely he thinks a search deal is.

Ballmer: No way to handicap it. I think at this stage, it's probably fair to say I'm not even sure Yahoo would handicap it. They're out doing a search for a new CEO and we'll just have to wait and see how all that shakes out.

Q: You said a little while ago that there weren't any active discussions, is that still the case?

Ballmer: Yeah. I think probably fair for us not to comment too much.

Ballmer was a bit more revealing in comments to the Financial Times:

"We now have someone in place running our online business [Qi Lu, a former Yahoo search exec who started at Microsoft on Monday], and Yahoo's out looking for a CEO.

"If a search deal is to be made, it's probably to be made in the interim period for new leaders in both places."

Updating the Yahoo CEO guessing game: Current Yahoo President Sue Decker, via CNET, and Carol Bartz, former executive at Autodesk, via BoomTown. (Update, Friday morning: The Wall Street Journal reports Yahoo is nearing the end of its CEO search and also names Bartz a top prospect, citing sources.)

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