Google and the European Commission have been doing their seemingly interminable antitrust dance for three years now, but today's development might signal a shift in the tides. In July, the EU's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, had deemed Google's previous concession offer unworthy and informed Eric Schmidt that the company had to "present better proposals." According to The New York Times, Google has evidently heeded his words and ponied up a new offer that's evidently enough to please the antitrust chief, although specific terms have yet to be disclosed.
At the heart of the problem is Google's tendency to squeeze its rivals (including, but not limited to, Microsoft, Foundem and Hotmaps) out of search results, making it difficult for users to find them. The new offer allegedly addresses those concerns, and while it's unlikely that a decision will be made earlier than next spring, the EU's tentative approval of Google's efforts could mean that case is inching its way to a settlement. Almunia has said that he intends to present the proposal to the complainants in the case, who seem less than enthused. David Wood, the legal counsel for the Microsoft-backed Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP) told the Times, "It is far from clear from Commissioner Almunia's description of the revised package of proposed commitments that they go nearly far enough."