Yahoo and Microsoft have finalized their agreement to install Microsoft as the exclusive search provider for Yahoo's network of sites, the companies announced Friday.
The deal,, still needs to be approved by the U.S. government before it becomes final. But the companies said in October that they needed more time to complete the deal due to the "complex nature of this transaction," and Friday's announcement is likely the result of hundreds of hours of painstaking review from expensive lawyers.
At least company executives didn't have to rack up the frequent-flier miles to finalize this year; they signed it virtually, with Microsoft's Qi Lu and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz representing their respective companies on the licensing agreement and Ballmer and Bartz inking the definitive agreement, according to sources familiar with the deal.
, Microsoft will provide search technology to Yahoo for up to 10 years, also gaining access to Yahoo's search technology assets and several hundred employees. It will then pay Yahoo a significant portion of the ad revenue generated alongside those searches.
A Yahoo representative declined to comment on the specifics of what held up the final approval of the deal. Both parties said they still expect the deal to become final in early 2010, although.
Ina Fried contributed to this report.