NBC News has acquired full control of msnbc.com and its digital network from Microsoft and is immediately rebranding the site as NBCNews.com.
Many details of the arrangement remain to be worked out, and financial terms weren't disclosed.
But NBC News President Steve Capus said the site would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public Radio. Schiller joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.
"Some really talented journalists have passed through the doorway of msnbc.com and taken us to the point where we have something that is an outstanding set of properties, and we value them to such a degree that we decided that we wanted to own them outright," she said.
In the short term, msnbc.com will reflect the homepage of NBCNews.com. Eventually, it will become the address of MSNBC TV, giving MSNBC TV its own dedicated address and ending an arrangement under which the news site shared the MSNBC name with an increasingly commentary-driven channel.
The deal ends 16 years of a 50-50 joint venture between Microsoft and NBCUniversal, which is now majority-owned by Comcast Corp. The arrangement married NBC News' exclusive news and video content with Microsoft's technological expertise.
The ties are deep, and untangling them will take at least two years, the network said.
During that time - and perhaps beyond - NBCNews.com will continue to provide news for MSN.com, Microsoft's Web portal, which will contribute traffic back to the network, said Meghan Pianta, a spokeswoman for NBC News.
Microsoft also will continue to sell NBCNews.com's advertising inventory for an undisclosed period, which Capus said should minimize disruption in ad revenue.
For NBC News, the advantages are clear, industry analysts and company executives said. It will control its own digital future through a digital network that was visited by 49.9 million people in June, according to figures from the online analytics company comScore.
In addition, while msnbc.com has never publicly reported revenue figures, independent industry studies have called it the most profitable news website in the United States. NBCUniversal will now collect those profits.
For Microsoft, moving on "allows us to go out and innovate," said Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com.
Under the joint venture, NBC News was the exclusive news provider for MSN.com, which now will be able to negotiate partnerships with other news organizations in order to appeal to the widest possible audience.
MSN.com has begun hiring for a new news operation ? as yet unnamed ? that will launch in the fall, he said.
The biggest job likely will be to merge the Web staff with the NBC News staff. The website's headquarters and about half of its staff are based on Microsoft's campus in the Seattle suburb of Redmond. NBC News' headquarters is in New York.