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AltaVista Revamps Services

While rumored to be on the selling block portal site AltaVista Co. Monday launched a series of new services for visitors and announced $5 million worth of promotions.

The company updated its flagship service, AltaVista Search, to offer multimedia searches and said it will refresh its database every 28 days to guarantee relevancy. Twenty-five new features are also slated to be delivered this year, the firm said.

Looking to cash in on the popular customization trend, AltaVista also debuted its MicroPortal, a downloadable Internet application designed to deliver users an up-to-the-minute personalized desktop window to Internet Explorer users. MicroPortal is an upgraded version of AltaVista Tracker, launched in March. Set to launch in July, MicroPortal is accessible to IE users with version 4.0 or above.

To promote the MicroPortal services, AltaVista is giving away $5 million in Shopping.com electronic cash certificates to first-year users of the AltaVista MicroPortal. Shopping.com is an AltaVista subsidiary.

In another move to customize its offerings, AltaVista's Zip2 subsidiary announced partnerships with new media companies to create 40 local portal sites complete with local news and information.

"AltaVista has consistently delivered the leading search service to the Web community," said Rod Schrock, president and CEO of AltaVista.

"Now we are laying down the gauntlet: we intend to offer a broader range of online services designed to greatly enhance users' Internet experience. These new services feature all the same characteristics -- quality, robustness, best-of-the-Web orientation -- that have become synonymous with the AltaVista brand name."

AltaVista was spun off as a separate company from Compaq Computer Corp. in January, and last week became the subject of acquisition rumors by CMGI Inc. CMGI is reportedly willing to pay between $2 billion and $3 billion in stock for AltaVista.



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