After being knocked out by a bout of the flu for a week, I'm back. Of course, I thought I was still having fever-dreams when I read the stories about Microsoft considering buying Claria. On first glance, it doesn't make much sense. Microsoft's image has enough problems without bringing in an adware maker. Legions of anti-Microsoft fanatics would point at us more moderate critics and say "I told you so." And if the rumors that Microsoft bought Giant Anti-spyware because Bill Gates personally hates adware are true, it makes even less sense.
But there are some good arguments for Microsoft buying Claria. Beyond its pernicious adware, Claria has a lot of technology designed for personalization. It has also built up a large marketing research group. Both of these assets might look attractive to Microsoft's online properties.
My personal take is that, while some talks may have occurred, Microsoft is a big company. The online business might have expressed some interest, but once the top execs take a look they would probably nix it. Microsoft's main message right now seems to be credibility and security. But I think Microsoft should buy Claria. Microsoft would most likely immediately kill the adware distribution and pop-up business, and gut the company for its personalization technologies. It's not like Microsoft has never devoured companies before.