Microsoft Corp. (Nasdq: MSFT) is acquiring the professional social network LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) for $26.2 billion, one of the largest technology-industry deals on record, as the maker of Windows software attempts to put itself at the center of people’s business lives.

The deal is a way for Microsoft, which largely missed out on the consumer Web boom dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook Inc., to sprint ahead in social tools -– in this case, for professionals. While chief executive officer Satya Nadella has drawn kudos for efforts to reshape the company and reignite sales growth, the board is urging an even faster shift toward software and services delivered over the Internet.

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