MSN takes on Google dominance with own search engine

LONDON - MSN is launching its MSN Search search engine, Microsoft's first, today making it available to users in 24 markets as it seeks to gain ground on Google and Yahoo!.

Microsoft is hoping that MSN Search will entice users away from Google, currently the most popular search engine on the web. MSN's search service was previously provided by Yahoo!.

The site has been developed from MSN's beta search engine, launched in November, and incoporates new features following feedback from users of the test search page, along with the benefits of what Microsoft says is "its further developed search engine technology".

The result is a search engine that aims to provide surfers with more precise and relevant answers from a growing selection of web documents, images and news sources, along with expanded access to online encyclopaedia Microsoft Encarta.

MSN Search is able to answer direct questions such as "What was the final score in the 1965 FA Cup final?", similar to Ask Jeeves, and refreshes its document index every two days, giving the most current results possible.

Customers will also be able to use the search builder tool, whereby searches can be conducted by certain search criteria such as specific websites, country, region or language.

A menu of adjustable onscreen "graphic equalisers" enables users to adjust their search criteria as they go along.

Category-specific tabs such as web, news, images and Encarta also allow users to fine-tune search results.

Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice-president of MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform division at Microsoft, said: "The final version of our MSN search service provides us with an infrastructure that allows us to continually and rapidly deliver innovative new features that give consumers precisely the information they're looking for, no matter where it's located."

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