Which parts of Yahoo (if any) would make sense for Microsoft to buy?

There are reports circulating that Microsoft might be considering buying all or parts of Yahoo. Is there any way this move could make sense?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

There's a new report circulating that Microsoft may be seeking to buy all or parts of Yahoo.

That's a crucial distinction right there: "or parts." I'm seeing some other stories claiming that Microsoft is looking to buy all of Yahoo, like Microsoft nearly did  three years ago. The decision to pull the plug on that planned $45 billion acquisition was one of the best/luckiest moves in Microsoft's history, in my (and many others' opinions).

So what might have changed in the last three years that would make Microsoft take another look? Well, I'm sure the asking price is a lot lower right now. But quite a few of the prize employees that Microsoft might have obtained by buying the company in 2008 have either quit to join other companies or are now on Microsoft's payroll. And the coveted Yahoo search technologies that Microsoft may have desired largely have been replaced by Bing.

So let's assume Microsoft's acquisition advisors are thinking sensibly and are considering buying only parts of Yahoo. What might make sense for Microsoft to bid on?

Flickr photo sharing: Could be a good fit with Microsoft's SkyDrive service Yahoo Mail and Messenger: Could be a way for Microsoft to eliminate competitors to its own Windows Live Mail and Messenger services and pick up all those Yahoo customers, too Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo Deals, Yahoo Travel: Any/all of these commerce services might be good complements to Bing's similar offerings

Yahoo Advertising: Would make a decent pairing with Microsoft's myriad advertising efforts, especially given the emphasis Microsoft is putting on online ads.

Other piece parts that might make sense for the Softies?

Yahoo is known to be shopping itself around and Microsoft has been said to be among those kicking the tires. So that part of this story isn't new. But it seems that there's a contingent interested in making it known this week (for trial balloon reasons or perhaps other purposes) that Microsoft is definitely among the serious contenders.

Update: Unlike me, my colleague Larry Dignan thinks "Microhoo 2.0" makes sense.

Update No. 2: Bloomberg and others are claiming Microsoft is nowhere close to a Yahoo bid.

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