The rumors have been flying around for some time now over whether or not Microsoft will put in an offer for search Giant Yahoo. Many have speculated over the past few months as to if Microsoft would try for an acquisition, and if so, how much was it worth to them.

This morning all speculation came to an end when Microsoft unexpectantly waved $44.6 Billion under Yahoo’s nose. Shortly after the announcement Yahoo Shares rose sharply by more than 50%, while Google shares took another 8% drop down to 515.90 by close of day Friday.

The latest acquisition attempt, and what would be one of the largest in history, would put Microsoft in a position to actually compete with distant leader Google.

In a conference call this morning Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer stated:

“This is a decision we have – and I have – thought long and hard about,” Ballmer said. “We are confident it’s the right path for Microsoft and Yahoo.”

Last year Microsoft purchased online ad service aQuantive for a stagger $6 Billion – petty cash compared the offer currently on the table for Yahoo.

Last year Microsoft was negotiating to purchase yahoo (see Microsoft Buy Yahoo? Yes Please!) And at that time the Wall Street Journal had estimated Yahoo’s value at around $50 Billion.

Will the deal go though this time? It would certainly stir things up and make life a little more interesting for us SEO folks – If the past is any indication of the future, then this deal may just fizzle out, but with Yahoos recent layoff announcement, and lower than expected fourth quarter earnings, this just may be there way out.

(on a completely “conspiracy theory” type level, perhaps Yahoo just paid off Microsoft under the table to stage a fake offer in order to drive Yahoo shares up? Do I believe this – well no, but I was recently reading about some famous historical publicity stunts, so this theory came to mind and I wanted to share it)