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ninemsn launches beta of search service

ninemsn has released the beta version of MSN Search today in conjunction with its global debut.The new ninemsn search service is, the company says, expected to provide consumers with more useful answers to their questions and faster access to the information they seek online.

ninemsn has released the beta version of MSN Search today in conjunction with its global debut.

The new ninemsn search service is, the company says, expected to provide consumers with more useful answers to their questions and faster access to the information they seek online.

The search service is also designed to reduce the time and effort required to find information online by offering "the largest, most up-to-date selection of online information and a new class of powerful, customisable search tools".

Ninemsn search allows consumers to receive relevant results from more than five billion Web documents.

One of the features of the new search service is providing relevant answers to direct questions such as "What is the population of Tasmania?" or "What is the capital of Turkey?" within the search results. Answers are provided in a number of categories, including definitions, facts, calculations, conversions and solutions to equations. Searching for news and images is also integrated into the new, streamlined service.

In the US, users can type in the name of an artist, song or album and be directly linked to top music and other content provided by MSN Music. One click allows consumers to stream the music, a second click lets them purchase and download it. This feature will be introduced in Australia towards the middle of 2005, utilising the ninemsn Music service.

The new search service also allows customers to customise their search results by emphasising or de-emphasising certain search criteria, such as specific sites or domains, country, region or language. Consumers with specific criteria they want to apply to their searches can visit a menu of adjustable onscreen dials for each criterion.

If desired, users can tailor search results to a geographic location. This service will initially by offered in the US. ninemsn is currently exploring local search options in Australia.

Martin Hoffman, ninemsn chief executive officer, said, "Search is one of the great services of the Internet age--yet it's still early days. We know that people want answers to their questions, not just links to Web sites. Our goal is to provide these answers. Today's announcement is the first step in the realisation of this goal".

The new ninemsn Search has been built over the last two years on Microsoft technology. The complete version is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2005.