Yahoo! on Wednesday postponed the deadline for nominating new board members, a move the company hopes will at least delay Microsoft's hostile takeover bid. Microsoft had previously said it would use the nomination process, set for mid-March, to replace Yahoo!'s board with one that is more amenable to the software giant's $44.6 billion takeover offer.

"Yahoo!'s board of directors remains committed to pursuing initiatives that maximize value for Yahoo!'s stockholders," a Yahoo! statement issued Wednesday reads. "To the extent that the extension of the nomination deadline has the effect of postponing the nomination of one or more directors by any party, it will allow Yahoo!'s board to continue to explore all of its strategic alternatives for maximizing value for stockholders without the distraction of a proxy contest."

Yahoo! reports that the new nomination deadline will be ten days after it announces the date of its annual shareholder meeting. That latter date has yet to be determined, but according to corporate bylaws, it must happen by mid-year.

Yahoo! will reportedly use the extra breathing room to continue evaluating alternatives to the Microsoft bid. According to "The New York Times," Yahoo! is currently discussing purchasing AOL from Time Warner in order to combine their advertising efforts into one that could compete more effectively with market leader Google. (Oddly, Google owns a 10 percent state in AOL and yet supports this combination.) Yahoo! is also discussing possibilities with News Corp., including a combination of Yahoo! with MySpace.