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Microsoft Opening European Search Centers »

Steve Balmer of Microsoft announced Thursday that they were opening 3 R&D centers in Europe as part of their ongoing efforts to catch up to Google in Search Engine market share.  The search center locations would be in Munich, Paris and London.

Microsoft also announced that it was going to be increasing its $600 million/yr European research and development budget.  They are also anticipating employing several hundred including software developers.

The center in Paris is expected to be open in March 2009 and they are getting some pretty nice tax breaks too.  Microsoft will get 30 euros back for every 100 euros it invests.

Speaking in Paris, Balmer said:

We are the challenger, not the leader, in search, but we believe strongly that search is in its infancy and there is so much room for innovation. For companies like Microsoft search is the key for unlocking huge new opportunities in advertising.

In the US, Microsoft barely has 8% of the search market share, compared to Google’s 62%.  But in Europe, Microsoft’s share is even less at 2 percent.