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MSN's Latest Search: Live And 'Kickin?'

Microsoft's Live Search, Live.com, and Live Local Search are out in the open and looking to wow their way into more market share in the search sector.

The release isn't a moment too soon, as rival Google ever-widens its search market share lead and Yahoo keen to differentiate itself with more human-based search results.

Live Search, the technology Microsoft will deploy on its MSN and Live.com sites, features all the industry standards such as video and image search. The search engine will also offer related search results, a feature made popular by another search underdog, Ask.com.

With particular pride, Microsoft Live Senior Product Manager Justin Osmer pointed to a "first in-class" Image Search where users can resize their photos and view the entirety of their results on one page.

There's also Live QnA, Microsoft's social search product to rival Yahoo Answers, the site where users answer other users' questions.

But what really has Jupiter Kagan analyst Sapna Satagopan optimistic about Microsoft's future in the search industry is its Live Local Search. It integrates "Bird's-eye imagery," which allows users to change from road or aerial views to a 45-degree view of their local search result.

With features like that, Microsoft could make up some of that overall market share with the new local search offering, Satagopan told internetnews.com.

"With their Bird's-eye view and their ability to provide those granular details in terms of maps and graphics, [Local Live Search] is definitely a fantastic differentiating factor," she said.

Her primary complaint is that there isn't a way for searchers to store their own information to make local searches more relevant.

Satagopan also thinks Microsoft should find a way to bring click-to- call advertisements into their local search.

Osmer doesn't disagree.

"We have been experimenting with click-to-call technology on a test basis with a small number of folks today. That's certainly an area we intend to be in and we'll probably have some news on the in the future," Osmer said.

But right now, the focus is on the Live Search release since its beta launch six months ago, and whether it will improve Microsoft's market share in the sector.

Microsoft has remained a distant third behind Google and then Yahoo in claiming search engine market share. As of the end of June, Nielsen//NetRatings had Microsoft pegged at just over 10 percent to Google's 49.4 and Yahoo's 23. Microsoft's number fell to 9.6 after July.

"If you think about what we've done to get to third-place in market share, it's actually pretty impressive given the fact that the number one and number two guys have been out for six and seven years," Osmer said. And now, it's up to a wider range of everyday users to test drive the features built from beta.

"We felt like we'd gotten the feedback we needed from customers and the product was performing well on all of our internal metrics," Osmer told internetnews.com.

"But there's a lot more we can do."

Live Search and Live.com are available in 47 markets worldwide and Microsoft's Local Search is online in the United Kingdom and the United States.