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Microsoft and the European Commission are back in talks aimed at ending anti-trust investigations against the company.

The most advanced probe is the Competition Commission's investigation into the browser market sparked by complaints from Opera, but the Commission is also looking at word processing and spreadsheets.

Competition Commissioner 'Steelie' Neelie Kroes is keen to tidy up the probe before she leaves office.

The browser probe is approaching D-Day - either Microsoft finds a way to satisfy the bureaucrats or they are likely to take action later this year.

Several proposals have been made to end the bundling row, including a possible "ballot window" when a machine is first booted up offering users the choice of several browsers, or forcing OEMs to include other browsers in the software bundle supplied with machines.

Microsoft's grandstanding offer to sell a version of its software without any internet browser was not welcomed by the Commission which said the move offered less choice, not more.

Discussions were attended by senior Commission and Microsoft figures, Bloomberg reports.

Microsoft declined to comment on this story.®

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