MSN Stakes Local-Search Claim on Virtual Earth

Microsoft plans to announce its initial push into local search on Monday as it takes a step closer to launching a competitor to Google's online aerial maps. The company's Internet division is expected to release a beta version of MSN Local Search. The service, which will be added as a link from the main MSN Search site, will provide geographically targeted search results about businesses and other local information, as well as online street and aerial maps pinpointing the results.

MSN's main competitors, Google, Yahoo and America Online Inc., already offer similar local listings, but MSN officials say they are already working on combining local search with more advanced online maps. To that end, MSN is set to announce that it is merging the team building the MSN Virtual Earth service previewed by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates last month with the MSN Search team.

News source: eWeek

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