Microsoft Corp. has reportedly approached Google Inc. about a potential buyout of the search technology company.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, one of Silicon Valley’s few business success stories in the post-dot-com era, has been meeting with investment bankers over the last several months and exploring its options for a public offering. During that process, Microsoft approached Google to discuss alliance options, including a takeover, according to an article in Friday’s New York Times.

Google hasn’t been rushing to take Microsoft up on the offer: Executives there seem to favor a public offering rather than an acquisition, the newspaper reported. Microsoft and Google declined to provide comment to the New York Times for its story. Calls placed to both companies by IDG News Service weren’t immediately returned.

Microsoft has been eying the Web search market now largely dominated by five-year-old Google. While Microsoft has denied plans to enter the paid search industry, it has increased the staff on its search team to more than 200 and deemed MSN Search one of the company’s key businesses.