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Microsoft Targeting Search

September 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. plans today to launch its updated and renamed Internet search engine, the latest step in a massive effort to make headway against market leaders Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc.

Live Search, the successor to MSN Search, had been available in test form. It ranks a distant third in U.S. popularity after Yahoo and Google, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

The release also is part of the Redmond, Wash.-based software company's push to offer free Web services under its new Live brand. The approach has been aimed at helping Microsoft establish a fresh, separate Internet brand for those services, but it has confused some users who are familiar with its traditional MSN branding strategy.

"In general, I don't think a lot of consumers outside of computer enthusiasts ... are aware of Windows Live or know what it is," said Matt Rosoff, independent researcher with Directions on Microsoft.

Microsoft plans to use Live Search on its MSN portal and is planning to promote it this fall. But Rosoff said the company needs to do more to explain what Live is to potential users and persuade them to switch from rivals -- whether it's a massive marketing push or a broader tie-in with other products.

Among other changes, Live Search will include improved ways to refine a query so a user interested in "jaguar" can better target the animal, the car or the Apple Computer Inc. operating system, said Christopher Payne, a vice president assigned to Live Search.

It also has improved the ability to search for and view images, Payne said. Microsoft today also plans to officially launch Live Local Search in the United States and Britain. The search offering, which has long been available in test form, shows detailed photographic images based on queries for particular addresses and places of interest.

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