Gates was speaking with Tom Brokaw of the U.S. NBC network in an interview held to mark Gates' last day of full-time work at Microsoft. Beginning Monday Gates will spend some of his time at the company as non-executive chairman, but devote most of his time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation charity that he and his wife established.
In the interview, a full-version of which was posted online, Brokaw asked Gates: "Do you think in a year from now, when you're down at the foundation offices, you'll look up at Microsoft and see Yahoo as a permanent wing of Microsoft, a part of it? Do you think the deal will get done?"
Gates replied: "No, I don't think so. But there are plenty of decisions ahead that Steve [Ballmer] will get to make about what he invests in, R&D, and what kind of deals he does. I don't think that one's likely but there are plenty of others that will get done and I'll look on with great respect."
Microsoft spent three months courting Yahoo earlier this year, but its bid to acquire the company fell apart in May when the two sides couldn't agree on a price. Since the two companies officially ended talks, there has been regular speculation that talks have continued behind the scenes although Gates' comments do signal that such talks, if they existed, are now over.