Microsoft Corp. plans to open a research centre in France in conjunction with a French government research organization. An announcement could be made as early as Tuesday afternoon during a visit to Paris by Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

The company announced plans in February to develop a network of research centres in partnership with public institutions across Europe. The first centre, at the University of Trento in Italy, will focus on computational tools for biological research. The company is discussing the creation of further centres with research organizations in France, Germany and the U.K., it said at the time.

Those discussions appear to be reaching fruition in France, where the company is planning the creation of a joint research centre with INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, according to sources at the company and at the institute.

“We can confirm that INRIA and Microsoft are discussing the creation of a joint research laboratory,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said Thursday.

The signature of a memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and INRIA could be announced Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the matter. Microsoft CEO Ballmer, the French Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, Thierry Breton, and the French Minister of Research, Fran