Depending on how you want to interpret it, Bill Gates has said in the last couple of days that Microsoft definitely will -- or definitely won't -- actively pursue partnerships to replace the failed bid for Yahoo. The "independent way" statement aside, obviously Microsoft is going to spend at least some of the money it was ready to put down for Yahoo on strategic acquisitions.
Interestingly, Kara Swisher at All Things Digital writes today that there is already a new strategy. It even has a code name: Project Granola. I don't understand how spending on "marketing, technology and research" is "organic," or how it is different from any other day at Microsoft, but I do understand the move toward a possible full acquisition of Facebook, instead of Microsoft's current stake. And I want to see more of the like.
I'm not going to list the "hot" Web 2.0 companies that Microsoft should look into. Everyone has done that. Microsoft knows what's out there. Long term, a series of small acquisitions of Web 2.0 and social-networking sites, plus an integration plan for them, brings in innovative thinkers, devoted users and no risk of more anti-regulatory fights.