REDMOND, Washington: Depending on which news source you might choose to read, Microsoft is now planning to buy online giant AOL ... or plotting with it to break-up the other object of its affections, Yahoo.

Executives from the software titan met with their counterparts at AOL's parent company, Time Warner, earlier this week.

British newspaper The Times reports that the purpose of the talks was to evolve a plan to split Yahoo so Microsoft ends up with its search advertising business, thereby putting it in a stronger position to challenge the might of Google.

An alternative scenario to this $40 billion (€25bn; £19.9bn) strategy is the one outlined by, which suggests Microsoft is looking to acquire AOL as Plan B to its hitherto frustrated  pursuit of Yahoo.

Most recently the latter spurned an offer from Microsoft and interventionist shareholder Carl Icahn that would segment its search business to the software titan while the billionaire investor would snap up the rest of the company.

The summarily rejected proposal was conditional on the removal of Yahoo's entire board and senior management.

Meantime, all parties remain tight-lipped on the latest talks.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK) and; additional content by WARC staff