MSN Investing in More Than Just Search

The new MSN Search is looking like a 2005 deliverable. In the meantime, MSN plans to deliver new MSN Messenger, small-business and personalization services.

Microsoft Corp.s MSN unit has a lot more than just new search and online music services on its new product plate.

MSN Vice President Yusuf Mehdi, in a keynote address on Wednesday at Goldman Sachs fifth annual Internet conference in Las Vegas, shed a bit more light on a handful of the next-gen services on which the unit is pinning its hopes.

While Mehdi didnt outline any timetables, he told the institutional investors attending the conference that MSN is working simultaneously on its totally revamped MSN Search; new add-ons to its MSN Messenger instant-messaging service; and MSN Music service. At the same time, MSN is readying new mechanisms designed to deliver more ad targeting and personalization from the MSN home page, as well as new entertainment and small-business services, he said.

Company watchers are expecting MSN to launch its new music service this year, and its search service by late this year or early next. But Mehdi hinted that the totally rewritten MSN Search service is running later than expected.

"Within 12 months, if not sooner, well have a test version [Release 1.0] out," Mehdi told conference attendees.

Microsoft has not explicit about the overlap between MSN Search and the search facility that will be built into the Windows Longhorn release that is due out in 2006+. Members of both the MSN teams and the Longhorn teams have spoken of wanting to deliver a search facility that will work across a users local file system, a corporate intranet and the Internet. But whether Microsoft is working on a single search facility or more than one that will handle these tasks is murky.


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