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Did Microsoft complain to EU regulators about Google+?

The software company reportedly complained about Google+, but has publicly denied any claims that it filed a complaint against the social network.

There seems to be a difference of opinion over whether Microsoft recently complained to European Union regulators about Google+.

Reuters is reporting, citing two sources, that Microsoft informally complained to the European Union's European Commission about Google's social network. The sources wouldn't divulge what Microsoft said nor whether the company will file a formal complaint with the commission. Microsoft was reportedly flanked by "several" other companies that have taken issue with Google+.

However, in a statement to CNET sister site ZDNet, Microsoft said that it did not, in fact, file a complaint with the European Commission against Google+. But saying that it has "not filed a complaint" does not necessarily mean the company hasn't held informal talks with the European Commission about Google+.

A Microsoft spokesman directed CNET to the same statement, but added that Microsoft has not complained in any way about Google+.

If complaints are eventually filed against Google+, they would be rolled into the antitrust investigation the European Commission is conducting of Google's business practices. The commission launched the investigation in November 2010 after U.K.-based price comparison site Foundem, French legal search service, and Microsoft-owned U.K. search engine Ciao charged Google with artificially lowering their rankings while boosting its own services.

Just a few months later, Microsoft filed a formal complaint against Google, saying that the search giant "has taken to entrench its dominance in the markets for online search and search advertising to the detriment of European consumers."

"How does it do this?" Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel, Brad Smith, asked at the time. "Google has built its business on indexing and displaying snippets of other organizations' Web content. It understands as well as anyone that search engines depend upon the openness of the Web in order to function properly, and it's quick to complain when others undermine this.

"Unfortunately, Google has engaged in a broadening pattern of walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers," Smith concluded.

Google has said that it will cooperate fully with the investigators.

Next up, the commission will need to determine whether it'll file a formal antitrust complaint against the search company. Last month, the European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told Reuters in an interview that a decision on that front could be made as soon as March.

"I will receive comments from the case team towards the end of the first quarter," Almunia said. "I do not expect anything sooner. Let us see."