Microsoft readies search services to rival Google

Microsoft is adding new product and academic searches to rival Google.

Microsoft is quietly adding services to its Windows Live portfolio to compete with services Google and Yahoo already have in place.

Microsoft confirmed through its Waggener Edstrom Inc. public relations firm Friday that it is readying two new searches -- Windows Live Product Search and Windows Live Academic Search -- that will be a part of Windows Live Search.

The LiveSide blog, written by Microsoft-dedicated beta testers and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), previously reported on the new search offerings. MVP is an award Microsoft gives people who are active and helpful in communities for Microsoft's different product groups.

Windows Live Product Search will be similar to Google's Froogle service (www.froogle.com), in that it performs price comparisons on products and allows the user to refine the search results by category, brand, seller or specific keywords, according to a LiveSide posting by Chris Overd, one of the blog's authors.

"It is also rumored that as well as including expert or user-provided buying guides, Product Search will also provide access to discussions on products from articles and blog posts, something Froogle does not yet do," he wrote.

Yahoo Inc. also allows users to search for products through its Shopping search service, which can be accessed on its home page at www.yahoo.com.

Academic Search, aimed at Google Scholar, will allow users to search articles in academic journals or find out if books or articles are available in a library located near the user, according to another LiveSide posting.

According to LiveSide, Academic Search will allow users to do the following:

-- View an abstract for an academic article in a search preview pane;

-- View the complete article, as long as it is not being hosted on a Web site that requires a subscription or is restricted-access;

-- View a complete article as long as they have a valid subscription to do so; and

-- Purchase an article electronically using the British Library.

Microsoft said Friday Academic Search would be available in beta form before late September. The company declined to disclose release details for Product Search, but said they would be forthcoming.

In an e-mail Friday, LiveSide's Overd wrote that it seems Microsoft is "stacking up the services against Google."

Microsoft also recently made available an image search for Windows Live that is similar to Google's image search service, http://images.google.com/.

The service, called Windows Live Image Search, allows users to search for images on the Web. It is available in both the U.S. and the U.K. at http://www.live.com/ by typing in a search term and clicking on "Image" to find images.

Yahoo also offers image searching as an option on its search homepage.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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