Microsoft sniffing around Yahoo once again

Microsoft is reportedly considering boosting its Bing search efforts with a purchase of Yahoo, signing a non-disclosure agreement - the existence of which has been disclosed, which we imagine was rather against the original plan.

Microsoft makes no attempt to hide the fact that it's competing with advertising giant Google on a number of fronts: its Bing product competes in search; its Windows 8 product will go up against Android on tablets; its Windows Phone product goes up against Android on smartphones; it's even planning a social networking site called Socl to take on Google+.

According to sources speaking to the New York Times and quoted by Bloomberg, the company has decided it could use a little help - and is drafting in Yahoo to lend a hand.

Yahoo itself is struggling somewhat: after firing chief executive Carol Bartz back in September, the company has been stuck in limbo with many analysts predicting that it's preparing for a sale - or even to split into multiple new companies.

Microsoft has expressed an interest in Yahoo before, too: back in 2008 it offered $33 per share in a deal valued at $47.5 billion, only to walk away due to Yahoo's reportedly uncooperative attitude.

That's a decision that could cost Yahoo shareholders dearly: based on current stock price, which has edged up slightly on the news of renewed interest from Microsoft, any new deal is likely to value the company at less than half the 2008 offer.

Neither Microsoft nor Yahoo has commented on the claims.