Microsoft has sold off parts of its Bing navigation business to dotcom taxi firm Uber, and some of its digital advertising assets to AOL.

According to VentureBeat, the Uber deal includes a data center near Boulder, Colorado, and 100 highly specialized engineers.

“We will no longer collect mapping imagery ourselves, and instead will continue to partner with premium content and imagery providers for underlying data while concentrating our resources on the core user experience,” Microsoft said in a statement.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Change of direction

Microsoft will continue developing its Bing maps service, but it has sold the part of the business responsible for image collection – the process which involves customized cars with 360 degree cameras.

Uber interacts with its customers through an app that features maps and interactive overlays. It has been increasingly positioning itself as a logistics company, launching courier services and even grocery delivery services for individual markets.

It’s easy to see how Uber will benefit from acquiring a fleet of street-mapping cars, engineers who used to work on Bing maps and a wind-powered data center opened in 2008 – a modular facility designed and built by Dell to process petabytes of image data.

Earlier this year, the company reportedly bid as much as $3 billion on Nokia’s Here mapping business – but the parties never reached an agreement.

Meanwhile AOL – itself recently acquired by Verizon for $4.4 billion - will take over the sales of digital advertising through Microsoft websites and apps, including MSN, Skype and Xbox.

About 1,200 Microsoft employees will lose their jobs in the transition, unless they take a similar position at AOL. As part of the deal, AOL is also replacing Google with Bing as the default option for searches on its website.