Microsoft and Yahoo reportedly talking again

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Yahoo’s Carol Bartz are reportedly talking about search and advertising partnerships between their respective companies, according to Kara Swisher at BoomTown.

Swisher reports:

According to a variety of sources, the talks between the pair and also other execs at both companies are preliminary and also wide-ranging, focused on what kinds of commercial relationship Yahoo and Microsoft could have in the future.

The caveat is that discussions are preliminary. It appears that the latest Microhoo talks revolve around a search and ad partnership. That discussion could include that long-talked-about outsourcing arrangement where Yahoo would hand off its search technology to Microsoft. From there, the search giant would garner more search market share and better target ads.

Bartz, a Silicon Valley veteran, doesn’t have the baggage that previous management at Yahoo had. And given Bartz has had a few months to get her footing it only makes sense that she’s at least chatting with Ballmer. She has indicated that the search data is critical to Yahoo.

Among the possibilities highlighted by Swisher:

* Yahoo takes over Microsoft’s display and premium ads and Microsoft runs search advertising;
* That joint operating agreement of sorts would create a bundle to compete with Google;
* Microsoft buys Yahoo’s search business.

In any case the big thaw between Microsoft and Yahoo seems to be underway.

Also see: OK. We get it. Microsoft wants a search deal with Yahoo.

* Yahoo execs talk Bartz, search deal and new opportunities
* Should Yahoo sell search or keep it as a buffer?
* The time is now for a Microsoft-Yahoo search deal

Larry DignanLarry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.