MSN today debuted a beta version of its new MSN Search service, providing consumers with more useful answers to their questions and more control over their search experience, which results in faster access to the information they are seeking online. The new MSN Search is designed to reduce the time and effort required by consumers to find information online by offering one of the largest, most up-to-date selections of information and a new class of powerful, customizable search tools.

The global beta version of MSN Search is available today for public use in the United States at , and worldwide in 26 markets and 11 languages from local MSN Web sites.* The new MSN Search allows consumers to quickly receive relevant answers from a universe of more than 5 billion Web documents.

New and innovative features in MSN Search provide an enhanced search experience by providing relevant answers to direct questions—such as “What is the second-longest coastline in the world?”—within the search results. In addition, the Search Near Me feature automatically provides information and resources that are close to home, dramatically reducing the time needed to find geographically relevant information and eliminating the need to sift through thousands of links. Finally, searching for news, images or music is fully integrated into the new, streamlined search experience.

“The release of our beta is a huge step toward delivering the information consumers are looking for online, faster than previous versions of MSN Search,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for the MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform division at Microsoft Corp. “With better results and more powerful search tools, MSN Search is creating a new, higher standard for online search—one that helps consumers find the information they need, when they need it.”

New Search Engine Revs Up Relevance and Presentation of Online Answers

At the heart of the new MSN Search is an advanced search engine, built over the past two years on Microsoft® technology, that dramatically improves search results by offering consumers the following features and benefits:

—Vast index of information. The MSN Search index of more than 5 billion
Web documents is one of the largest indexes offered today. With more
items being added continually, the new search engine increases
consumers’ chances of finding the information they want.

—The most up-to-date information. The index, much of which is updated
weekly or even daily, provides the most relevant, timely and accurate
data as quickly as possible, while minimizing frustrating dead links.

—Direct answers. Users can ask the search engine a question—such as
“What is the capital of Turkey?”—and receive the answer—“Ankara”
—from Microsoft Encarta®, the No. 1 best-selling encyclopedia
brand.** Authoritative, direct answers are provided in a number of
categories, including definitions, facts, calculations, conversions and
solutions to equations.

—Direct actions. When consumers type the name of an artist, song or
album, they get linked directly to top music and other content provided
by MSN Music. One click allows MSN Search users to sample music, and a
second click lets them purchase and download it.

—Content-specific searching. To help consumers quickly get to the
information they are looking for, MSN Search enables them to search for
specific information using search tabs such as Web, news and images.

New Search Tools Offer Consumers More Control

Microsoft designed MSN Search to overcome the one-size-fits-all approach offered by other search engines. Pull-down menus and other customization tools built into MSN Search allow consumers to control and refine their searches in the following ways:

—Search Near Me. Consumers can receive search results tailored to a
geographic location. A consumer in Portland, Maine, who needs to know
the location of the nearest local fire station no longer needs to sift
through online listings for Portland, Ore. This is accomplished by
assigning geographical information to Web pages as they are indexed by
the service.

—Search Builder. MSN Search users can customize search results by
emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain search criteria, such as specific
sites or domains, countries, regions, or languages. Consumers who want
to apply specific criteria to their searches can visit a menu of
adjustable on-screen dials for each criterion. The dials can be reset
when consumers’ criteria change. A consumer who needs current facts and
figures can adjust the dial to emphasize the most updated results, and
someone looking for the official Web site of a favorite television show
can adjust the dial to emphasize the most popular results.

Through the efforts of many of its top developers and employees around the world, Microsoft is dedicating thousands of hours to build the new search service, a complete version of which is slated to launch early next year. The new MSN Search is another example of the MSN vision to empower people globally through information, software and services that help them find, discover and experience what they want to online.