The amount is simply eye-popping. But Microsoft clearly thinks the £18 BILLION ($26bn) price tag for LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, is worth paying for. The company is most associated with Windows and its founder Bill Gates, but has faced tough competition from relative upstarts Facebook, Google and Apple – and has cast around for a new approach as sales of desktop PCs continue to drop. A previous attempt to become a mobile device manufacturer by buying Nokia’s mobile handset division is seen as largely a failure. Since then, Microsoft has gone on to buy Skype as it has increased its online services. 

The latest acquisition allows Microsoft to extend its reach when it comes to social networks and connect LinkedIn’s 433m global professionals with Microsoft products such as Outlook, Calendar, Skype and even Windows. Both sides are insisting that LinkedIn will keep its own identity, but the purchase – which is subject to regulatory approval – is surely further evidence of Microsoft’s attempts to transform its brand.  

As news site CNBC said in its report, Microsoft wants to be the “biggest provider of professional software services, to both enterprise customers and individuals”. It will also be interesting to see if Microsoft might even make a bid for social network site Twitter as part of its drive to transform itself….