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Microsoft CEO says Google complaint is "baseless"

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a 2007 photo. Ballmer on Friday said a complaint lodged by Google was "baseless" as the software company was complying with a 2002 antitrust settlement. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

DETROIT (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. MSFT.O Chief Executive Steve Ballmer on Friday said a complaint lodged by Google Inc. GOOG.O was "baseless" as the software company was complying with a 2002 antitrust settlement.

In a complaint filed with the Department of Justice in December, Google said a feature built into Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system that allows users to search a computer’s hard drive did not leave room for competition from other desktop search applications.

Google argues that this feature violates a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior as part of its settlement with the U.S. government, which had accused the company of using its monopoly to harm competition by incorporating new features into its operating system at no additional costs.

“We continue to comply with the consent decree we signed with the U.S. government in recognition to the findings around our position with Windows,” Ballmer said at the Detroit Economic Club.

“We think all claims to the contrary are baseless,” said Ballmer, a Detroit native, in response to a question from the audience following his speech to the group.

The latest quarrel between the two technology heavyweights reflects the growing competition between Microsoft, the world’s largest maker of software that runs on a computer’s hard drive, and Google, the leader in Web search and other services working on the Internet.

In afternoon Nasdaq trade, Microsoft shares were up 5 cents at $30.57, while Google rose $3.29, or 0.7 percent, to $506.13.

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