Microsoft may be in a hurry to acquire Yahoo's advertising revenue, but it won't rush to merge its computing systems with Yahoo's after a potential merger, according to a top executive.
Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, told the Financial Times that the company would take a long, hard look before attempting any integration of technologies.
"Technology companies, if they dive in and just smash things together for smashing-them-together's sake, it's reckless, it's just simply reckless," Ozzie told the FT in a story published on Sunday.
At last week's Mix '08 conference in Las Vegas, Ozzie talked about Microsoft's efforts to build a "seamless mesh" computing infrastructure that will be more aware of mobile devices and online applications.
As our own Dan Farber put it last week, reporting from Ozzie's Mix keynote: "Ultimately, the 'mesh' requires an overhaul of the back end to support utility computing on a grand scale. In addition, applications need to be 'refactored,' Ozzie said."
That refactoring may need to extend to a range of open source-based applications within Yahoo that Microsoft will need to tackle before it can fully realize the benefits of any merger.
Ozzie may have made an oblique reference to that challenge in his Mix keynote: "And then there's Yahoo...I can say it's already added some interesting twists to what promises to be a really, really exciting year," he said.
Microsoft may have already begun to help itself in this integration challenge. Last month, the company launched a broad interoperability strategy to better link to open-source software and other non-Microsoft technologies.
News.com's Stephen Shankland underlined the significance of that move, in light of the Yahoo bid. "The third, and perhaps strongest reason, is that open-source software has become a powerful force in the software industry and customer sites--and even at Yahoo, the Internet company Microsoft is trying to acquire for $44.6 billion in part because of its engineering expertise."
Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the company would likely keep some of the open-source PHP applications that Yahoo relies on for its services and attempt to mix-and-match them with Microsoft's platforms. "We should not have two of everything. We'll have to sort some of that through," he said.