Microsoft Corp. recently announced the largest purchase the software giant has ever made, paying $6 billion for aQuantive Inc., a leading agency for Internet ads which also has powerful technology that serves banner ads to other Web sites. The deal was an all-cash purchase for a price of $66.50 per-share which represents an 85% premium to aQuantive's Thursday closing price of $35.87.

"The announcement represents the next step in the evolution of our ad network from our initial investment in MSN, to the broader Microsoft network including Xbox Live, Windows Live and Office Live, and now to the full capacity of the Internet. Microsoft is intensely committed to creating a thriving advertising business and to partnering closely with all key constituencies in this industry to help maximize the digital advertising opportunity for all." said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.
Through the acquisition of aQuantive Microsoft hopes to boost its own efforts to sell and deliver advertising on the Internet, a business with an expected growth of 30% this year. Last month, Yahoo Inc. bought the rest of privately held online ad exchange Right Media Inc. that it didn't already own for $680 million, and back in mid-April Google purchased DoubleClick Inc. for $3.1 billion, Microsoft clearly had to make a move if it wanted a piece of the online advertising business.