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Here's a deal that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s: Microsoft is buying Netscape. Or at least, most of the important parts of the company that used to be synonymous with "Internet". That's a side component of the $1 billion patent sale that AOL and Microsoft announced this morning. As part of the transaction, AOL announced that it was selling off "stock of an AOL subsidiary" at a loss, in a move that's supposed to reduce its overall tax bill. AOL didn't disclose the name of that subsidiary in its press release, but a person familiar with the transaction has clued me in: It's Netscape. Microsoft will buy the underlying patents for the old browser, but AOL will hang onto the brand, and the related Netscape businesses, which make up a grab-bag of stuff these days: An ISP, a URL, a brand name, etc. All of which probably makes sense on someone's ledger books. But the transaction may still make a few heads spin, at least for people who remember Internet history and/or have access to Wikipedia. View the full article