Talks with EU initiated by Microsoft and Yahoo on their search collaboration efforts

Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. have been engaged in informal discussions with the European antitrust regulators about their proposed search collaboration, Microsoft confirmed on Thursday.

The planned 10-year agreement is also being scrutinised by the US Department of Justice, which recently asked the two companies to submit more details on their proposed search deal.

Quoting the same, a Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said: “As we said when the agreement was announced, we anticipated that this deal will be closely reviewed in the United States and EU, and discussions in both geographies continue. We remain hopeful the deal will close in early 2010”.

However, antitrust officials asserted that it was too early to comment upon if the EU execs could go on to have a formal probe.

This could be considered as a good sign for the proposed search deal between the two internet giants, as regulators could have started the formal probe instead of informal talks.

Microsoft and Yahoo penned a 10-year internet search deal back in July in their attempt to take on the search engine giant Google, which had a whopping 67.5 percent share in the worldwide search domain in July, according to figures released by comScore.

Furthermore, the software giant said its deal with Yahoo is pro-competitive in the sense that the combined search business of the two would offer a more competitive alternative to the market dominance of Google.