Viacom announced a 5 year alliance with the world's largest software company on Wednesday, giving the content created significant online reach.

The deal with Redmond Wash.-based Microsoft will be worth over $500 million, the companies said.

Viacom will work with the software maker over a broad range of digital ventures, and includes an agreement to sell remnant display advertising, a needed win for Microsoft as it seeks to justify the purchase of online advertising company aQuantive - its biggest-ever acquisition.

Microsoft will also license brands such as Comedy Central and MTV over its MSN Web sites and Xbox Live platforms.

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman in a statement called the deal a novel and comprehensive partnership that demonstrates the scale of our digital operation.

The move marks a shift in strategy for Viacom. It has traditionally moved to only host its shows, movies, and other content on its own websites.

A key part of the agreement will see Viacom move its advertising distribution away from DoubleClick, the online advertiser currently awaiting regulatory approval of a buyout by Google Inc., the world's largest search company.

The company currently has a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google's YouTube, in which it alleges the video sharing site of hosting its content illegally.

The deal does not, however, cover search advertising. The media firm reached a separate deal in April

under which Yahoo has the exclusive right to handle search advertising for Viacom's entertainment Web sites.

Microsoft and Viacom also said they will work together in gaming and to create co-branded Web sites for events such as the MTV Video Music Awards and BET Awards.