Ballmer On Loose In Paris: ‘Search Still In Infancy’, New R&D Drive

More on that search R&D centre Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in June told advertisers it would build in Europe… CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured in London yesterday) fronted the launch in Paris this morning for a “Search Technology Centre” (STC), which will actually be split between three centres of excellence in Paris, London and Munich and will be Microsoft’s second in the world, the other in Beijing. MS is pulling Jordi Ribas, GM of its Connected TV group, to head the centre.

Microsoft’s Live Search has a miniscule two percent share in Europe. Having failed to buy Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) to boost its search-and-advertising nous, it’s now trying to build itself a better search. But Europe – and France in particular – is becoming the search battleground for both companies, with Yahoo opening an R&D outfit form the remnants of Kelkoo in Grenoble last week. French finance minister Christine Lagarde fronted that opening, as well as today’s for Microsoft.

Though Google (NSDQ: GOOG) seems to be making a tidy buck from search already, Ballmer (via release) said: “We believe search is still in its infancy. Developers at the Search Technology Centre will play a key role in helping us redefine search as they create new search products and services for consumers and advertisers. We need to draw on the world