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Microsoft: We'll Beat Google at Its Own Game

Microsoft (MSFT) will introduce a search engine better than Google (GOOG) in six months in the United States and Britain followed by Europe, its European president said on Wednesday.

"What we're saying is that in six months' time we'll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google," said Neil Holloway, Microsoft president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"The quality of our search and the relevance of our search from a solution perspective to the consumer will be more relevant," he told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit.

But being good is not enough to win the hearts and minds of consumers already dedicated to another standard.

U.S. courts and the European Commission found Microsoft countered that problem by trying to kill off Netscape's browser and RealNetworks (RNWK) audiovisual software by bundling its competing code into Windows, violating antitrust laws.

But bundling would find little purchase against Google because it lives insulated from Microsoft on the Web, unlike other applications that were easy game for the software giant as they perched directly on Windows.

Holloway said that the company has no plans to integrate its search engine into Vista, the new Microsoft Windows operating system set to replace Windows XP later this year or early next year

TWICE AS GOOD

"Should we add a Google-like search engine but twice as good hard-core into Windows? Guess what. If we did that, I don't think a company called Google would be very happy," he said.

"You've also got to a step back and say where do you integrate," he said.

Microsoft will put its search engine into its widely used communications tools Windows Messenger and Hotmail.

"Integrating search into those other applications ... makes it very seamless for people," he said. Timing in Europe will be pegged to that in the United States.

"The U.K. will probably be at the same time, France maybe three months behind, Germany maybe three months behind. It's not two years behind."

He said that Microsoft's goal — but not its initial offering — would go beyond finding URLs and instead focus in on the specific information sought by Internet users.

"Generally these days what you get back is URLs, and based upon research 50 percent of the time you do a search you don't get the URL you're looking for," he said.

Holloway said that the promise of Microsoft's search capability is to dig down.

For example, he said, potential home-buyers might find a group of houses in the price range and with the precise amenities they are seeking.

Or a surfer might find a restaurant with the kind of menu a diner wants in a particular geographic area.