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Yahoo saga takes spotlight off Server ‘08 launch

Microsoft is doing its best to hype this week’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event for Windows Server 2008, but the company’s pursuit of Yahoo is still stealing the headlines.

Now in its fourth week, the soap opera continues to take new twists and turns. Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog reported Thursday that Bill Gates, in comments made last July, said he saw no value in acquiring Yahoo. Now he sees so much value that his company is willing to spend $44.6 billion. That’s a drastic shift that will fuel even more questions about the motives and strategies in Redmond.

Around the same time that news broke, Microsoft evangelist Anand Iyer posted a response to Yahoo employees who are “disappointed that they’d be working for Steve Ballmer.” Iyer stopped just short of going on YouTube and tearfully yelling, “Leave Steve alone!” But he did heap praise on his boss, including these gems:

  • “Every word coming out of his mouth has the potential to change the world in some way.”
  • “Ballmer is probably the most intelligent, tactical and loyal person I’ve ever known.”
  • “I totally respect the man.”

The next day, Microsoft released an internal email by Kevin Johnson, president of its Platforms and Services Division, addressing Microsoft’s goals, integration strategy and the prospect of layoffs. And then two more Yahoo stockholders sued the company and its board of directors for rejecting Microsoft’s bid.

The Yahoo saga is clearly drawing outsiders’ attention away from other Microsoft news. But the real trouble for Microsoft will come if Yahoo becomes a distraction internally.

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