MICHAEL LIEDTKE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ¿ There's an intriguing idea floating around the media: Microsoft Corp. wants to undercut Google so badly in Internet search that it might pay newspapers to withhold their content from Google.

Just don't count on that turning into a lucrative plan for newspapers.

The unorthodox strategy faces stumbling blocks, starting with this one: Microsoft is unlikely to fund a Google boycott, according to three people familiar with Microsoft's discussions with a variety of publishers. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are still in early stages.

That contradicts other unnamed people who told the Financial Times and other newspapers that News Corp., the owner of The Wall Street Journal, is discussing a plan that would block Google from indexing its content in return for an unspecified payment from Microsoft.

The sources in the conflicting reports agree on one point: Microsoft is in talks with a wide range of media outlets, including The Associated Press, about ways that its search engine, Bing, might be able to showcase stories, photos and videos in a way that distinguishes it from Google.

The discussions could result in new revenue-sharing agreements or other payments ¿ but they wouldn't necessarily require News Corp. or other publishers to shun Google.

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