Microsoft will not try to make up for its failed move on Yahoo with a spate of other internet acquisitions, according to the top executives behind its online strategy.

Speculation about Microsoft’s next move has been rife since Yahoo last week rebuffed the software group’s overture, ditching Microsoft for a search advertising pact with Google.

Among other companies picked out as acquisition targets are Facebook, in which Microsoft already has a small stake; the AOL division of Time Warner; and a slew of smaller concerns.

Steve Ballmer, chief executive, scotched talk that Microsoft would turn to a “plan B” of other acquisitions to boost its online presence. “People don’t understand what they’re talking about,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “At the end of the day, this is about the ad platform. This is not about just any one of the applications.”

Kevin Johnson, head of Microsoft’s Windows and internet businesses, added that the move on Yahoo was based purely on Microsoft’s need to strengthen its advertising business, with the search advertising market by far the most important aspect of it.

After Microsoft abandoned its initial bid to buy all of Yahoo last month, it returned with an offer for the search business.

“The most important application for the foreseeable future …is search,” Mr Ballmer said.

“I don’t think we can say: ‘OK, well, we’re going to be in the ad platform business and we’re going to do it just on the strength of non-search-based assets.’ We don’t have to dominate, but we’d better have a darn good chunk of the search market over time.” The comments, in the FT this month, were made days before Yahoo opted for a search advertising pact with Google.

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