Starting May 24, Microsofts Live Local mapping feature lets users share maps and other location information directly from Live Messenger, a new version of Microsofts popular MSN Messenger.
Live Local is also available directly from Microsofts Outlook Calendar, an office computer desktop staple. Users must first download and install free software.
The "Live" moniker refers to beta versions of Microsofts popular Web services, so changes to these features are ultimately very important to Microsoft.
With the latest upgrades to Live, Microsoft is trying to use the strength of its ubiquitous office and consumer computer desktop software brands as a draw.
The goal of all the maneuvering is more traffic, which for Microsoft translates to a larger share of the estimated $13.8 billion to be spent this year on Internet advertising.
It remains to be seen if this helps Microsofts ailing mapping facet. In terms of audience size, Live Local is the No. 4 online travel/maps provider, according to Hitwise, an Internet intelligence company.
Hitwise reports that the category is dominated by MapQuest, with 56.3 percent of the audience. Yahoo Maps is second with 20.5 percent, and Google Maps is third with 9.5 percent. The combined audience of Windows Live Local and another Microsoft mapping feature is 4.3 percent.
Live Local version 3 also has a new social networking aspect, in which customers create lists of favorite landmarks and locations so they can be shared with others, or recalled later via e-mail or Microsofts MSN Spaces self-publishing feature.
It also now features maps and businesses in Canada and the United Kingdom. The Outlook add-on is currently available in only a few markets.