Microsoft Corp.'s deal to join forces with Yahoo Inc. in the Internet search and advertising businesses could create a counterweight to the online muscle of Google Inc. It may also help Steve Ballmer end the worst slump in his career at the helm of Microsoft.
For the past several years, Microsoft has been stung by missteps, including a clumsy defeat last year in Mr. Ballmer's unsolicited bid to acquire all of Yahoo. Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system was pilloried for technical problems, and its videogame ambitions were nearly thwarted by widespread malfunctions of its Xbox 360 console.
Yet amid the bad news, there are signs that things may be finally starting to look up for Microsoft.