After hearing Steve Ballmer talk at Mix last week about Microsoft’s focus on Search and Online Ads; it’s not hard to think that it’s all just rhetoric. I mean this is the kinder, gentler Microsoft that doesn’t need to be the top dog in everything, right?

Wrong. Just over the AP today comes a story of Microsoft’s plan to but Rapt Inc., which will put them right in the mix for developers needing tools to help create their ad executions. These are the same developer tools that Microsoft got from buying aQuantive last year.

What’s so crazy about the aQuantive acquisition is that they also happen to get one of the largest interactive firms in the world in the process (Avenue A l Razor Fish). Normally this sort of thing would have sent shockwaves through the agency space, but to date Microsoft has been very hands off with Avenue A. So much so that I was surprised that the last question from the crowd at Ballmer’s keynote was from an Atlanta employee of Avenue A asking (paraphrasing) “what are you going to do with us?”

Steve’s answer was a welcomed one in that he basically said that they were going to continue to do what they do and be left alone.

So at least for now, little firms like us are safe from prospect of the big dog getting in our space. I for one like things the way that they are.


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