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Google Exec Meets With EU on Microsoft

Company wants Vista to include variety of search engines, but refuses to call Microsoft to the carpet officially.

(Brussels, Belgium) Google Inc. said that it wants Microsoft Corp. to make sure users can easily choose Internet search engines in future products -- but Google refused to say if changes Microsoft has already made to its upcoming Vista operating system have gone far enough.

David C. Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate development, spoke to reporters after meeting with European Union antitrust regulators but refused to give details on those talks, beyond saying there had been no particular agenda.

"It's been our view that any new version of Microsoft products that include search, that that be done in a way that preserves user choice for search and other applications," Drummond said. He said that Google would monitor the situation but that it was "too early to tell" if there were would be any antitrust allegations arising from Vista.

Microsoft said this month it had changed Vista in several key sectors -- including its search service -- in an attempt to soothe European antitrust worries. Regulators had said they were concerned that computer manufacturers or consumers might be prevented from having a proper choice between different software packages.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in March, pointing out possible issues with Vista's integrated Internet search, digital rights management tools used to protect copyrights and software that would create fixed-document formats comparable to Adobe Systems Inc.'s Portable Document Format, or PDF.

Security vendors Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc. also complained that Microsoft had been slow to hand over technical details needed for their antivirus software to work smoothly with Vista.

There is no formal investigation into Vista, but Microsoft is still embroiled in a long-running legal challenge to the EU's 2004 antitrust order that found the company broke competition law. Microsoft was fined $613 million.

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