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Carol Bartz and Steve Ballmer in 2009

Carol Bartz’s penchant for colorful language is making headlines following her dismissal as Yahoo’s CEO earlier this week.

“These people fucked me over,” she tells Fortune in an exclusive interview today, not mincing words about the Sunnyvale, Calif., company’s board.

But beneath her attention-grabbing verbiage is an interesting assertion by Bartz about what could be the defining moment of her tenure as the company’s CEO — the decision to partner with Microsoft in the Internet search and advertising business.

Here’s how Fortune’s Patricia Sellers explains Bartz’s outlook on the deal …

As Bartz sees it, Yahoo’s search partnership with Microsoft —a deal she negotiated two years ago to offload costs—has Yahoo paying Microsoft 12% of its search revenue and limits current growth but will help the company long-term. She attributes the directors’ impatience to the criticism they faced when they turned down a lucrative deal to sell Yahoo to Microsoft in 2007, before she arrived. “The board was so spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country,” Bartz says. “Now they’re trying to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are.”

Microsoft handles the underlying search technology and advertising infrastructure for Yahoo under the deal. Bartz in April said  “technical limitations” in Microsoft’s adCenter were resulting in fewer clicks than expected on ads next to search results, and impacting Yahoo’s revenue.

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