Microsoft Display Ads Take Their Test

UPDATED: Microsoft today began testing display advertisements in
Microsoft Office Live, Windows Live Mail and MSN Spaces, a move that might
give the company some footing in its competition with Google.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said the ad testing will help generate
revenue to provide consumers with a wide array of free
and low-cost online services, such as Web-hosting, e-mail and Web services.

Windows Live, which is a collection of
personal Internet services and software such as e-mail and news, will
display ads in MSN Spaces in
Australia and Italy. The company will test Windows Live Mail display ads in
Australia, Brazil, Canada, China,
France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Like Google’s popular Gmail, Windows Live Mail is a free e-mail application
based on asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). While Gmail and Windows
Live Mail are free to users, advertisers still must pay and therefore may
soon have to choose between the two.

Office Live display ads, which are being tested in the U.S., immediately
sold out of their available openings for beta advertisers,
Microsoft spokesperson Karen Redetzki told

“It was like getting tickets for a rock concert.”

Coca-Cola Brazil, JCPenney and Monster Worldwide nabbed some of the space.

Office Live is a collection
of online services designed as an alternative to
an in-house IT staff for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

It comes in three versions, including two subscription services, Microsoft
Office Live Essentials and Microsoft Office Live Collaboration. But it’s
Microsoft Office Live Basics, the free, ad-supported package, that most
seems like a Microsoft counterpunch to Google’s offerings.

The experimental shift toward advertising revenue may seem a subtle one
for Microsoft, but the move is felt as a tremor across the IT landscape,
because it puts the company into direct competition with search giant

Redetzki acknowledges that her company is finally putting itself in the ring
with Google.

“We know we’ve got strong competition, including Google,” she said. “But we also know there are things to differentiate us. With the audience we already have, with the audience we can attract, we believe we can deliver the largest advertising audience and the best

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