Yahoo offer culminates a long flirtationMicrosoft's $44.6 billion offer to buy Yahoo isn't its first. It's just the first to go public. Here, we track the board-room romance back to its beginnings.

  • Microsoft's first acquistion target in search wasn't Yahoo. Back in 2003, rumor said Microsoft would purchase Google. The New York Times reported that before Google's IPO, the companies talked about a buyout but it never went anywhere. Instead, Microsoft signed a search deal with Looksmart. Oops.
  • Rumors of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger began in earnest in early 2006. In January, the Los Angeles Times reported Yahoo turned down an $80 billion offer from Microsoft. Yahoo shares spiked on the news. You may have noticed the share value has since declined.
  • By mid-2006, the rumors were back, but Ziff-Davis's Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft only expressed interest in taking a stake in Yahoo's search business.
  • In July 2006, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during an earnings call that a Yahoo acquisition would not help Microsoft get competitive in search. "There is no acquisition path out," he said.
  • By May 2007, rumors were back. This time the number was $50 billion. Yahoo shares rose almost 10 percent on the news, closing at $30.98. Just under the $31 Microsoft offered today,