Sprint Communications provided most of its customers with a new search capability overnight, starting in the early morning hours of November 16.
The new Windows Live Search will give Sprint customers access to a flexible search engine that supports location-based results and will incorporate Sprints specialized portals.
"Its for all data-enabled phones that have PCS Vision and Power Vision enabled," said Michael Inserra, Sprints Director of Strategic Alliances.
Inserra said that Sprints Nextel iDEN-based phones are not included in this launch, but will be added later. He said the new feature was pushed to Sprint users who will get it automatically.
The service is only available to customers on Sprints CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network.
"Were really going to be the first U.S. carrier to do this with Microsoft," Inserra said. He said that while the search capability will produce location-based results, users will initially have to enter their location using a city or ZIP code. He said that the ability to gather location data from embedded GPS chips is still in the future.
"Itll pull up maps, directions, pictures and phone numbers and will have a click-to-call feature," Inserra said. He explained that when users find a business, such as a pizza restaurant, in the course of the search, they can call the displayed number with a single click.
"It has the ability to do a live search and cross reference the material on Sprints portals, such as music or ring tones," he said.
Inserra said that the Windows Live Search announcement was part of a new relationship between Sprint, of Reston, Va., and Microsoft. He said that the two companies have been working together closely and have already delivered an e-mail security solution to customers.
Inserra also said that the strategic alliance includes sales, marketing and product development. He would not say, however, whether a future product that might include Microsofts Zune music player being integrated with a Sprint phone was in the works for the alliance.
"I cant discuss future products," Inserra said. He did say that the two companies have numerous initiatives underway.