MSN Launches Local Search Beta

Microsoft's MSN business unit has planted local roots. Monday, MSN announced a beta of an Internet search service that corrals local business and residential listings together with maps and satellite images.

MSN Local Search follows rivals America Online, Google and Yahoo as the latest purveyor of geographic based Web searches, providing nearby business information, in addition to the local weather and other home-brewed happenings.

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MSN blends these local search capabilities together with the company's Virtual Earth technology, a next-generation mapping service that overlays satellite imagery of actual buildings and neighborhoods onto maps in order to aid in directions.

"We remain committed to continuously improving our search service, and today's MSN Local Search beta release is just the beginning. With the addition of MSN Virtual Earth, we are poised to take local search to the next level," said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president for MSN Search.

MSN is the second vendor, after Google, to enhance its mapping services with images taken from the heavens. Google Maps set an industry first when it combined those elements into its service in April.

The MSN Local Search beta is available at http://search.msn.com/local.

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