Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

Summary: As much as I (and many others inside and outside Microsoft and Yahoo) thought a Microsoft buy of Yahoo made little sense, a Microsoft-AOL tie-up seemingly makes even less. What do you think?


The latest rumor relating to the Redmondians is Microsoft is contemplating some kind of acquisition or merger with AOL.

As much as I (and many others inside and outside Microsoft and Yahoo) thought a Microsoft buy of Yahoo made little sense, a Microsoft-AOL tie-up seemingly makes even less.

With Yahoo, Microsoft at least was set to get Yahoo's search share (and/or to take the second biggest search vendor out of the equation). But what would Redmond gain by buying AOL? I am guessing that the Microsoft dealmakers are rationalizing the idea by claiming the AOL online properties would give Microsoft and its adCenter advertisers more potential ad real estate.

But what else would Microsoft get from an AOL acquisition? Are there AOL sites and services that don't overlap with MSN.com and the various Windows Live ones that I am overlooking? Is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer going to cite potential "backend-infrastructure synergies" or "brain trust" rationalizations for an AOL purchase, like he originally did a Yahoo one?


Other theories and rants welcome in the Talkbacks.

Me? I think Microsoft is doing everything in its power right now to mess with Yahoo. And if Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang is talking to Time Warner/AOL, Ballmer is going to do his best to thwart any kind of deal his nemesis might try to forge.

Topics: Microsoft, Banking, Enterprise Software, Social Enterprise


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Microsoft tried to buy AOL...

    ... and Steve Case turned down Bill Gates. He wanted to buy Time Warner and own a movie studio instead. (Anachronism alert.)

    But in this case Microsoft buying AOL makes more sense. Time Warner can throw in the remaining Netscape community (without returning Microsoft's $900 million paid for outcompeting the browser), giving Microsoft all it wanted years ago, and so Microsoft can count the past few years as a mulligan.

    Works for me.

    If AOL were a good content company like Yahoo, then buying it would make sense for Microsoft, too.
    Anton Philidor
    • "Giving MS all it wanted"

      I think what MS would have wanted most was the end of Netscape/AOL's sponsorship of the Mozilla project. Kind of late for that now.
      John L. Ries
      • AOL/Netscape did pull away from Mozilla.

        Turned over resources and money and ended the connection. Mozilla had difficulty until Nokia arrived with a timely $250,000 in return for a small browser that would reduce payments to Opera and Nokia's own staff.

        Also, why didn't Microsoft worry about Mozilla(?) despite the company's supposed sensitivity to rising competitors. And why did Steve Ballmer mention overlooking internet advertising as an error, but not letting IE wait on Vista?

        Probably because FireFox is not a significant threat to the company's revenues. During Netscape's success, there was some risk. But how many people are not going to buy Windows because of the existence of FireFox? Especially when enterprises have largely continued with IE.

        I suggest it's about the money.
        Anton Philidor
    • Holy cow!

      I never thought I would see the day. Anton and I agree! But for different reasons of course. I see AOL as a very dead, heavy weight for Microsoft. AOL is a has-been. Their glory days are over. I would love to see Microsoft swallow that over-sized hunk of blubber and choke on it.

      Note to Jerry Yang: Tell Steve Ballmer he's too chicken to buy AOL. That's right Stevie boy, you don't have what it takes to run the company now that Bill is gone. Go on, I dare you. Go ahead and buy AOL.

      Hey Anton, why don't you rustle up some statistics, quotes and data to show me how wrong I am about AOL. I have no doubts you can. You do it with Microsoft all the time. Unfortunately for Microsoft their stock is still as flat as a Nebraskan corn field, like it has been for the last 5 years.
  • RE: Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

    Lowest common denominator OS and apps company integrating with the lowest
    common denominator internet access company. Makes sense to me.
  • RE: Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

    I hate AOL. I'll never forget the mistreatment I received from them in the 1990s. And all those damn CDs they send out. AOL is a company composed of dishonest thugs. To think of even a small part of their corporate culture infecting Microsoft frightens me.
    • I thought that...

      Considering how evil Microsoft is thought to be you'd have been more bemused about how evil (Microsoft) + evil (AOL) would work out. Ah well.
    • It's a pity I can't draw

      An idea I thought of years ago was a series of cartoons entitled "101 uses for AOL CDs" (any artists out there: feel free to steal it). Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to follow through on it, for the reason I state above.

      You can always use them as mini-frisbees; or better yet, target practice!
      John L. Ries
  • RE: Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

    MicroAOL would post a new low mark as the two weakest players in the realm of customer service would become one and could then explore new depths of arrogance and indifference unfathomable before....

    Just imagine a version of Vista ME that keeps (in their "cloud") all your data, contacts, email, favorites and photos and never lets you go lest you lose it all. No one else's programs will work with it. MicroAOL will upgrade and you will HAVE to get new equipment to keep up with the version.
  • Buying AOL would be like having MSN 2.0

    I don't see what good it would do for Microsoft. What they need to do is buy some OS maker and get back to the core business.
  • Summer news doldrums, Mary-Jo?

    Must be.

    Endless speculation about something that really doesn't matter much anymore. Not, I suspect, that it ever really did.

    I guess no iPhone rumours to "cover" either.

    The pack blogging/journalism around Microhoo is really getting tiresome particularly when it doesn't contribute much of anything.

    Not just a shot at you, Mary-Jo, but the whole damned pack of you who seem to want to either get talkbacks or are suddenly being paid by the word, never mind that when you put the words together, all of them, add nothing to the story whatsoever.



  • RE: Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

    Look at this article discussing all possible scenarios of possible deals between the big internet giants... www.gothamtechminute.blospot.com
  • I think its a great idea

    I think that Microsoft SHOULD buy AOL! That would be GREAT for AOL's service! This is what Microsoft is actually missing in their side of things! A better way to do community based things. They could meld together MSN and AOL and create a brand new MSN-AOL identity that would work great.
  • RE: Poll: Would a MicroAOL be better than a MicroHoo?

    If Microsoft bought AOL then they (Microsoft) may be able to fix some of AOL's problems. I have tried everything and I still can't get Anger On Line off of my system.
  • Microsoft already had MSN, but the possiblities..

    MSN was a failure because everyone in the beginning was using AOL. Not many would switch to MSN that already had AOL even if it was a better service.
    AOL, even as it has lost most of it's dial up market and for the most turned into a free service for those on a TCP/IP connection, keeps going. Long after it SHOULD have died out, it is still running, and has a large user base.
    As many of us would call AOL evil, nasty names, and rightly it deserves many of them for their past business practices, AOL keeps it's user base because it has re-structured itself from "how you get on the internet," to "cool things to do while you are on the internet."

    No one, that I know of, who uses AOL, actually uses the AOL browser. People use the Chat, the AOL/CBS radio (used to include XM at no cost), they use the AOL news (which accesses other news systems like CNN, MSNBC, AP, etc., they use the online refrence materials, and the AOL Instant Messenger.
    Now are all of these available in other areas of the web? Sure. Can they all be accessed from one central program? Not usually unless you are on AOL.
    Would it be a money maker for Microsoft if they bought AOL? Oh yes, in advertising alone. Not to mention it may be able to Jazz up the AOL software a little. They could wrap AOL up into their LIVE platform and make something spectacular.