Updated: The 18-month Microsoft-Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) saga finally enters a productive phase (regulators willing) with a 10-year global search and advertising sales pact between the two companies. The deal, much of which has already been reported, was announced formally before U.S. markets opened. Yahoo estimates that the deal will improve its annual operating income by about $500 million. The companies hope they will be able to close the deal in early 2010; Yahoo’s transition to Bing, which will be the exclusive search engine, would start about three months after close.
Full details in the release; Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about the deal during a conference call with analysts and press. In a message for Yahoo “fans” on the corporate blog, Bartz wrote: “With Microsoft powering Yahoo! Search, we