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MSN is getting into the business of offering online searches of books and other writings, and says its approach aims to avoid the legal tussles met by rival Google Inc.

The Redmond-based software giant said that it will avoid copyright issues for now by initially focusing mainly on books, academic materials and other publications that are in the public domain. MSN plans to initially work with an industry organization called the Open Content Alliance to let users search about 150,000 published documents. A test version of the product is promised for this year.

Check this out:

We’re delighted to announce the availability of in-copyright book content in the Beta version of Live Search Books!

For hundreds of years books have been the repositories for the world’s most trusted, authoritative knowledge. But until recently, books have been invisible to the world’s search engines. Change is afoot! Starting today, you’ll find search query results from in-copyright books in Live Search Books. The integration of this valuable content will help us improve our ability to answer your questions and point you toward useful sources for additional information. The Live Search Books offering is part of our larger Live Search strategy to deliver the most relevant information possible to our customers in a seamless experience that integrates results culled from a variety of essential sources.

MSN Live Search features an “up-to-date index with a competitive index size and tools like Search Builder and Near Me to help personalize consumers’ search experience.”

MSN is preparing a webmaster section of their Live Search engine, resembling, more or less, Google’s Webmaser Tools. Accessing this area, however, is made by an application basis, so if you’re interested in participating in the beta program over the next few months, please send a mail to to apply. Let’s see what MSN promises:

A small team was formed in Redmond. Its singular focus: to build the next-generation set of tools, content and resources for SEO professionals and webmasters […]. Creatively named Webmaster Portal […], it will be a single, friendly place to find all tools and information relating to Live Search SEO. Initially we’ll support these scenarios:

* Troubleshooting tools to ensure MSNBot is effectively crawling and indexing your site
* Sitemap creation, submission and ping tools
* Statistics about your website
* Consolidation of content submission resources
* New content and community resources

Wikipedia says about Live Search:

Live Search (formerly Windows Live Search) is the name of Microsoft’s web search engine, successor to MSN Search, designed to compete with the industry leaders Google and Yahoo!. Live Search is accessible through Microsoft’s and MSN web portal.

The new search engine offers some innovative features, such as the ability to view additional search results on the same web page (instead of needing to click through to subsequent search result pages) and the ability to dynamically adjust the amount of information displayed for each search-result (i.e. just the title, a short summary, or a longer summary). It also allows the user to save searches and see them updated automatically on The first public beta of Live Search was unveiled on March 8, 2006, with the final release on September 11, 2006 replacing MSN Search.

On March 21, 2007, it was announced that Microsoft would separate its Live Search developments from the Windows Live services family. Live Search was integrated into the Live Search and Ad Platform headed by Satya Nadella, part of Microsoft’s Platform and Systems division. As part of this change, Live Search was consolidated with Microsoft adCenter.[1]

In the roll-over from MSN Search to Live Search, Microsoft stopped using Picsearch as their image search provider and started performing their own image search, fueled by their own internal image search algorithms.

Live Search has received much criticism from reviewers and other competing search providers, such as Google, Yahoo!, and AOL. Live Search and its predecessor MSN Search have been generally losing market share since 2006, mainly due to their lack of marketing and frequent changes. Many reviewers have criticized the lack of definition for Microsoft’s range of Windows Live services, and many users don’t know the existence of Live Search other than discovering it from Internet Explorer’s search box. Live Search is also criticized for its frequent change and redesigns, creating unfamiliarity for its users.

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