This may be a sign of some even more evil times to come...
A little while ago, Microsoft bought FAST (http://www.fast.no/ http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jan08/01-08FastSearchPR.mspx).
This is basically the technology that would make Ya? Who? search somewhat usable. Getting a usable search system, WOULD attract users. Especially if they had the brains to allow a similar xml interface that you get for IE7, Firefox, Opera, etc (and get TO google, Live, ask, aol, lycos, yahoo, amazon cnet daily mail, eBay, Guardian Unlimited, Microsoft, Orange, Tesco, Times Online, Virgin.com, Wikipedia).
Now, why is this important?
Microsoft has started to see (part of) the writing on the wall. More and more governments in the civilised world (the part of the world that ISN'T run as a corporistic republic), are starting to mandate opensourced alternatives. In Microsofts mind, this is ONLY a matter of price, and has nothing to do with freedom. Remember, Microsoft bosses are used to a country where you can buy yourself new laws (if you're rich enough), and you can pay your way to get large government contracts. They are also used to having their home countries intelligence services using their capabilites to augment the competitiveness of national companies in international contracts.
Now they are facing competition they simply cannot understand. Both from Google (and that annoys the crap out of them), and from something they simply cannot understand: FOSS. FOSS is a nightmare for Microsoft. They simply cannot fight it, because there isn't a single company to attack, and the largest backers of opensource, such as Sun and IBM, are somewhat so used to ugly business tactics, that Microsoft cannot attack them. Atleast not all at once. Since Microsoft are deluded (by themselves) to think that the customers moving to FOSS software are only a matter of price (remember, all their "get the facts" marketing scams have been around suggesting that Microsoft solutions are somewhat cheaper. They ONLY look at price. It's the only thing they understand), they are thinking "we need a new revenue stream, so we can start giving away windows for free, and thus tie users to our other revenue streams".
Consider the following:
-Microsoft acquires FAST.
-Microsoft acquires Yahoo.
-Microsoft applies FAST technology to Yahoo search volume, and starts attracting users.
-Microsoft allows all kind of browsers xml-access to the search system. No reason to block them out, since each one of them applies a set of eyeballs to their ads, which is a good thing.
-Microsoft ships IE8, with no option to replace their web-based search in the browser window with alternatives as Lycos or google. Most end users find themselves accepting IE8, if it is reasonably bug free.
-If IE8 is well received, and usage picks up, Microsoft ships Windows Live Free Edition. It's freely downloadable from the net, and the only "restriction" compared to, say, Vista, is that you cannot replace the IE8 browser, and cannot install a mail client (force people to be using the "Live Services"). Every user is able to get a free windows, that is tied down to their Live YaHotmail, and their Live YaFAST-Search. All mail on their hotspam service is of course scanned for keywords, both for ads, and for NSA.
-All piracy of windows disappears, since those not interested to pay, can use the free version (still good for gaming).
Scary, isn't it?