Microsoft and Yahoo fiiiiiiiiiiinally announced a search partnership this morning, bringing to an end months of endless rumors and speculation. The deal will provide Microsoft with a 10-year license to use Yahoo’s core search technologies and integrate Yahoo’s platform into Microsoft’s current search offering, Bing. Yahoo will focus on the advertising and will be the “exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers”. The partnership is subject regulatory review, a process that is expected to be completed in early 2010. Our favorite aspect of the deal is how much it has deteriorated — Microsoft first offered to buy Yahoo for over $40 billion back in February of last year, and then offered $1 billion for Yahoo’s search business a few months ago. Carol Bartz said at that point in time that it would take “boatloads of cash” for the two to work out a deal. Fast forward to today, and Yahoo gets a big fat goose egg up front. Awesome. The deal, by the way, was signed by both Bartz and Ballmer with a big purple pen. No, seriously.