Analysts say the fate of struggling internet company Yahoo Inc. likely rests on its choice of a new chief executive to replace co-founder Jerry Yang, who announced Nov. 17 that he would step down as CEO when a successor is named. But it’s not just the company’s investors who have a stake in the decision: So, too, do the millions of educators and other internet users around the world for whom web searching and related applications have assumed increasing importance.

What happens to Yahoo could determine, for instance, whether web users have a viable, powerful alternative to Google Inc. in the...

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