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Google Unlikely To Make Own Web Browser

Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt on Wednesday told industry analysts the online search engine leader is unlikely to create its own Web browser, even though the company remains worried about being slighted by the next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer.

Responding to a question during a conference call, Schmidt said Google sees little need to develop its own browser because most people seem satisfied with Explorer and rivals such as Firefox, Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari and Opera.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google already has a search toolbar installed in Firefox as part of its partnership with the Mozilla open source software project that introduced the browser in 2004.

"We would not build a browser just for the fun of building a browser," Schmidt said.

Later in the call, Schmidt reiterated Google's concerns about Microsoft programming the next version of its Internet Explorer to steer more traffic to its own Internet search engine.

Google informally complained to the U.S. Justice Department about Microsoft's plans, but regulators decided they didn't need to intervene. Schmidt said Google still hopes Microsoft will make it easier for Explorer users to set up other search engines in the browser.

The next version of Explorer will be included in Microsoft's Vista, a long-awaited upgrade of the Windows operating system due out next year.

"We want to make sure the use of the power of Windows is done in a correct and legally appropriate way," Schmidt said.

Google reigns as the dominant Internet search engine with a 43 percent share of the U.S. market through April, well ahead of Yahoo Inc. at 28 percent and Microsoft's MSN at 13 percent, according to comScore Media Metrix.

Schmidt's comments occurred during a question-and-answer session that Google organized in an effort to improve its communication with Wall Street. Analysts and investors have complained about Google's cryptic ways since the company's initial public offering in August 2004 and now management is trying to change that perception without backing down from its policy against sharing its financial projections.

The presentation didn't seem to make much of an impression. Google's shares were up slightly when the conference call began, but then backtracked to close with a 12 cent decrease at $371.82 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock lost another 82 cents in late-session trade.

Google covered familiar territory Wednesday, telling analysts to expect major investments heavily in new computer equipment and offices to accommodate the company's growing audience and work force.

The company spent $332 million on capital expenditures during the first quarter, including $112 million on information technology assets and $41 million on land and buildings.

Chief Financial Officer George Reyes said Google's hiring spree will continue at its recent pace, which has been increasing the company's work force by 14 percent to 20 percent every three months. In the past year, Google nearly doubled its payroll to just under 6,800 employees through March.

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