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Gates! says! Yahoo! offer! fair!

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!!!!! Microsoft's offer for Yahoo! is fair, it's not going up and the company should take a long, hard look at it, Bill Gates reckons.

Although many observers expect Microsoft to raise its offer for Yahoo!, Bill Gates said yesterday the company was happy with the price on the table.

Gates told AP: "We sent them a letter and said we think that's a fair offer. There's nothing that's gone on other than us stating that we think it's a fair offer... They should take a hard look at it."

Microsoft offered $44.6bn for Yahoo! in a mixture of shares and cash on 1 February. But since the announcement Microsoft shares have fallen more than $1 a share.

It seems unlikely that Microsoft will walk away from the deal. It could either raise the price or attempt to win over large institutional shareholders and individuals on the Yahoo! board. Many of Yahoo!'s largest shareholders also own Microsoft shares.

Microsoft needs Yahoo! to bolster its move into online services, and particularly online advertising, against the increasing dominance of Google.

Gates made the comments during a conference call to announce free access to Microsoft developer tools for students. Students will get free access to Visual Studio Professional Edition, Expression Studio, SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition, Windows Server Standard Edition, and games developer software. ®

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