Microsoft and Yahoo! have petitioned EU antitrust regulators for clearance of their proposed Internet search partnership. In a filing with the European Commission, the companies asked whether they required "formal notice" before proceeding with the partnership. They're also asking whether individual EU countries would need to examine the partnership.

"We anticipate that this deal will be closely reviewed in the US and EU, and discussions in both geographies continue," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We remain hopeful that the deal will close in early 2010."

Certainly, the EU has been busy of late, what with various antitrust investigations of Microsoft, Intel, and Oracle/Sun in various stages of completion. But as it turns out, the Commission was shut down for all of August—part of an annual European tradition—so it's only now getting back up to speed. (One imagines lily-white regulators sun-burning themselves on the French Riviera for much of the past month.)

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Bing service—which would power search results from both Microsoft and Yahoo! if the partnership is approved—continues its upward climb. According to Nielsen, Bing accounted for 11 percent of all searches in August, up from 9 percent in July. But market leader Google also saw a slight rise, to 64.6 percent usage share. Meanwhile, Yahoo! usage share dropped 4 percent to 16 percent overall in August.

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