AOL to Choose: Microsoft or Google

According to reports, Time Warner's board of directors is hunkering down Thursday for discussions on the future of AOL, and is expected to choose between partnering with Microsoft's MSN division or Google. However, a final decision is not expected for a few weeks, says the Financial Times.

AOL currently utilizes Google for its Web search service, bringing a moderate percentage of revenue to the world's biggest search engine. But MSN has reportedly come to the table trying to unseat Google in order to grow its own share of the search market, which it has struggled to do organically.

Rumors have also circled that a deal with either search provider could be more comprehensive, including a sale of the Web portal or even a financial investment in the company. However, recent moves and statements by both AOL and Time Warner indicate a sale of any sort is highly unlikely.

Comcast was said to be included in Google's bid, but neither company is commenting on the matter. Yahoo has also reportedly made an offer, but only Microsoft and Google are in serious discussions with AOL at the present time, sources say.

In addition, Instant messaging interoperability was reportedly on the table as part of a deal with MSN, but that was before Google joined the apparent bidding war. Microsoft recently inked a deal with Yahoo to open up communications between the two companies' IM networks.

Microsoft and Time Warner are not commenting on the situation to the press, and Google has dismissed rumors of MSN taking its place. "Google and AOL have a healthy global partnership and AOL remains a valued partner," the company said.

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