MSN Debuts Local Search Beta

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In its latest bid to catch up with other search engines, MSN released a beta version of a Local Search service yesterday that lets users get local results from business, residential or local Web sites, along with maps and aerial images.


When consumers search for local information, they will get results from city- and region-specific white pages and yellow pages directory information. For example, a local search on "auto mechanics" could bring up listings of nearby mechanics, repair shops and towing companies.


Each local search result is shown as a numbered pin on a corresponding map provided through Microsoft's MapPoint service, and digital aerial images are supplied by TerraServer-USA when available for a given search result.


Microsoft's offering gets it on par in the search wars: Google launched local search in March 2004 and combined it with maps earlier this year. Yahoo and Ask Jeeves both have offered local search since last summer.


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