REDMOND, Washington: Microsoft says the failure of its bid to snap up online pioneer Yahoo will not be the catalyst for a raft of 'plan B' web acquisitions.

Speculation that Microsoft could target social networking phenomenon Facebook or Time Warner's AOL was dismissed by ceo Steve Ballmer.

He told the Financial Times business daily: "People don't understand what they're talking about. At the end of the day, this is about the ad platform. This is not about just any one of the applications."

And the head of the software titan's Windows and internet business Kevin Johnson added that when the move for Yahoo was made, the objective was to strengthen online advertising, in particular search ads.

Ballmer declared: "The most important application for the foreseeable future . . . is search.

"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."

Meantime, Yahoo has inked a pact with online search leader Google, which will see the former run ads sold by the latter.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff