Though Bill Gates was out there telling people Microsoft is not interested in making non-Yahoo acquisitions right now (at least in the search/social world), word comes that Microsoft bankers have sent "feelers" to Facebook about a full acquisition.
Here's why this is a solid move:
1. Microsoft already owns 1.6% stake in Facebook, worth $240 million
2. Microsoft formed a data portability partnership with Facebook and 4 other networks
3. At least two Google execs have jumped ship to Facebook in recent months
While Facebook has yet to "overtake" MySpace in the social media market, it is a viable competitor. And I'm sure Ballmer would love for Microsoft to own a social network that even Apple has used as a marketing ploy as of late. Recent commercials for the iPhone entice potential customers through the ability to access Facebook on the popular mobile device.
The Facebook move would likely be seen by many as a better fit than Yahoo. But expect just as many to see it as a negotiating ploy in their bid for Yahoo. Though Microsoft has officially withdrawn its bid for Yahoo, many analysts expect Ballmer and the team to return to the table for another stab at a grab for the search engine.