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Microsoft: Saving face by buying Facebook?

In the wake of the Yahoo snafu, The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher hints that Microsoft's bankers may be courting Facebook, in which Microsoft already has a $240 million stake.

Microsoft, we get it: That Yahoo thing fell through, and picking up the pieces can be messy. But according to Kara Swisher at All Things D, Redmond just won't give up. The company has reportedly put together a Plan B that it refers to as "Project Granola," a name that makes "Zune" sound good.

And part of "Project Granola," Swisher wrote, is exploring the possibility of turning that $240 million stake in Facebook into an outright ownership.

More specifically, Microsoft's bankers have been shooting "subtle signals" in Facebook's direction, without expecting much of an outcome. "We just want to gauge their interest, more than any real effort," a shadowy financial type told Swisher, adding that he or she doesn't think Facebook will budge from its desire to eventually go public.

But the ultimate goal for Microsoft might be just to acquire some hot Web 2.0 names, not necessarily Facebook. In that case, the likes of Digg or LinkedIn might satisfy Steve Ballmer's appetite.

Just remember to have some plain yogurt with that granola, Ballmer. It tastes better if you keep it simple.