grnidone, Inktomi does have considerable reach into the global enterprise solutions market and this is precisely why Microsoft needs them (among many) to flesh out .Net. This deal will, as Brett points out, give Microsoft much-needed information (or ammunition) to use against Google whenever they want or need to and it will strengthen their ties with Ink.
As discussed in the IE6 XP Smart Tags [webmasterworld.com] and How Smart Tags Currently Work [webmasterworld.com] threads, Smart Tags are a potential threat to copyright carried by XP and, by extension, the .Net strategy.
This strategy, I believe, is at the heart of the matter.
What bemuses me is that Microsoft appears to be the only company capable of driving through a vision of the Net and Web we all shared several years ago. What the big boys are fighting about is how much of the revenue and the future each can garner for himself. It’s a story as old as the ages and we appear to be allowing these idiots in suits to get away with it – at great cost to ourselves and the medium.
That whoever comes out on top will hold "subscribers" to whatever ransom yields a revenue and user numbers they deem adequate is neither here nor there. Would Sun or other .Net detractors be yelling "monopoly" if they held the financial high ground? I very much doubt it and, to this observer from the foot of the African continent, their opprobrium appears to be little more than hypocrisy. Their duplicity is more than adequately catered for by a system that clothes the logical conclusion to rampant capitalism, i.e. a skewed form of socialism, in doublespeak, a malleable judiciary, and self-righteous media manipulation.
This is merely my observation and is open to correction by anybody. However, I do not believe it will count for much if Microsoft is broken up and is unable to use its fallback strategies to good effect. .Net or a variation of it will be with us in the near future.
The MSN / Ink relationship is, like the Office XP logo, merely another piece of the jig-saw puzzle.