Microsoft admits aQuantive web advertising cock-up -

Software giant Microsoft admitted that the $6.2 billion it spent buying an internet advertising company would have been better invested on an outsider at the Grand National.

Vole's Steve Ballmer enthusiastically wrote the cheque for aQuantive in 2007 in the hope of boosting Microsoft's online advertising.

But Ballmer admitted, Reuters reports, that its largest acquisition in the internet sector was worthless and wrote it off.

Most investors had forgotten the aQuantive purchase which was seen at the time as a counter to Google's purchase of digital ad firm DoubleClick.

Vole said in a statement:  "The acquisition did not accelerate growth to the degree anticipated, contributing to the write-down".

aQuantive never worked well under Microsoft and its top executives soon buggered off in search of greener pastures.

The move will wipe out any profit for the company's fiscal fourth quarter as Microsoft was about to report fiscal fourth-quarter net profit of about $5.25 billion.

But Microsoft also had some more bad news. It said that its expectations for future growth and profitability at its online services unit - which includes the Bing search engine and MSN Internet portal - are "lower than previous estimates". Given that the previous estimates are unlikely to be all joy, butterflies and roses, this is bad news.

Microsoft's internet services division is the biggest drag on its earnings. It loses $500 million a quarter even as Microsoft chucks more cash at Bing in an attempt to catch up to market leader Google.

In the last three years, the company's internet services wasted $5 billion and it still only has about 13 percent of the market.

So, Ballmer appears to be very good at losing cash. A lot of cash. Most people would feel bad if they wasted $600 on a poor tablet that they never use. Ballmer wasted $6 billion which, in 2000, was enough to give the entire population of the world a dollar.