Microsoft to improve own search offering

Microsoft is changing its search strategy, by improving its own algorithmic Web search service and pulling out of the directory search business.

Microsoft is enhancing its Web crawler search service to compete with the likes of Google, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo-owned sites such as Inktomi and Altavista, Robin Kellett, search business manager of MSN Search U.K. said Monday.

"We believe the search engine is an okay service at the moment, but it can be significantly improved. It's all about relevance, both with regard to the query entered and to personalization. Say you search for Dartmoor Pit Ponies -- you may want to find a U.K.-based site, rather than a U.S. based pony site. Most search engines do have a local flavor, like Google.co.uk, but we think the experience can be improved," Kellett said.

There is no launch date planned for the improved service, "but we have a team building it now," Kellett said.

The company has extended its paid search listing partnership with Overture Inc., now owned by Yahoo, until June 2005, Kellett said. On the directory search side, the Microsoft has pulled out of its partnership with LookSmart Ltd. in the U.K. and will finish its U.S. relationship with the company in January, Kellett said.

Kellett said he could not comment on recent rumors that Microsoft has been trying to buy Google.

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