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Report: Microsoft, EU in talks over antitrust issues

Bloomberg says that Microsoft is looking to settle several pending issues before EU Competition boss Neelie Kroes steps down at year's end.

Microsoft has had "preliminary talks" with European Union officials with the hopes of settling several regulatory probes, according to a Bloomberg report.

According to the report, Microsoft is aiming to settle the matters before EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes steps down at the end of the year. One issue is the EU's well-publicized concern over the bundling of Internet Explorer into Windows, while the other pertains to Office software, Bloomberg said.

The EU earlier this year issued a preliminary finding that the inclusion of a browser in the operating system violated European antitrust law and has been exploring a variety of potential remedies, including forcing Microsoft to distribute rival browsers with its operating system.

Last month, CNET News reported that Microsoft was planning to ship Windows 7 in Europe only in versions that had the browser feature removed, aiming to sidestep regulatory action. However, both the EU and rivals issued concern over that approach.

As for the Office inquiry, Microsoft has said it was opened in January 2008 and resulted from complaints filed by a trade association of Microsoft's competitors.

An EU spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report of settlement talks and a Microsoft representative declined to comment. Both Microsoft and an EU spokesman declined to comment in the Bloomberg report.