Many Suitors, and Pitfalls, as AOL Seeks a Partner from the New York Times says Microsoft is now the "front runner" in a potential sale of a stake in AOL.
The article highlights comments from Microsoft chair Bill Gates last week saying that interest is more about having a "greater role" in the future of advertising, suggesting as we and others have said before, that this may be more about landing increased distribution for Microsoft's new paid search program but outing AOL's current partner, Google.
The article also says the AOL-Google deal is up for renewal each year. If so, that's news to me. AOL has never said how long the last deal it signed with Google would last, but it was very, very clear when I talked to them about the deal when renewed in October 2003 that it was a multiyear agreement.
My best estimate has been that the deal would be up for renewal in October of this year, since past deals have typically lasted about two years.