MSN Shows Off Forthcoming Search, Mail Deliverables

At Microsoft's financial analyst meeting, MSN officials demonstrate several new products and technologies that the company is expecting to deliver in the next few months.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsofts MSN unit is getting new search, social-networking, Web e-mail and advertising-platform products ready to roll in the coming months, according to company officials.

MSN officials demonstrated a few of these future products and technologies during a session titled "Winning in Internet Services" held during the companys annual financial analyst meeting here Thursday.

Officials demonstrated a beta version of a new mail client, as well as the adCenter platform, also in beta, that Microsoft is hoping to use to attract potential MSN and advertisers.

They also put through their paces a social-networking app tentatively called "Friends of Friends," as well as an MSN Virtual Earth search enhancement called "Eagle Eye," due out this fall, that is designed to give a panoramic, very fine-grained zoom view.

Microsoft believes it finally is gaining on Google and other Internet service competitors in some key areas, according to Yusuf Mehdi, MSN senior vice president. Mehdi said Microsoft has significantly narrowed the gap between itself and Google, Yahoo and other players in this space, thanks to advances in algorithmic search, Hotmail, MSN Messenger and online advertising.

"Our ability to enter, differentiate and compete has never been stronger," Mehdi told the Wall Street analysts and media representatives who attended the analyst meeting.

Mehdi also told attendees that Microsoft is committed to investing to the extent needed in people, software innovation and capital expenditures "to take the lead in Internet services."

In fiscal 2005, which ended for Microsoft on June 30, the MSN unit shipped a first version of its algorithmic MSN Search engine, launched Windows desktop search and delivered the MSN Spaces blogging platform, which currently hosts 18.5 million blogs and supports 55 million unique users monthly.

The unit also shipped new versions of the MSN Messenger consumer instant-messaging product, as well as of Microsofts current Hotmail Web e-mail product.

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