REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced the final updates to the fall release of its Live Search service, introducing a broad array of new services and features to its local and mobile search offerings. The new features and enhancements are designed to make it easier for people to find what they need at home or on the go through significant innovations in mapping, imagery and driving directions as well as new services to make the mobile search experience easy and powerful. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) Microsoft also announced the availability of the Live Search 411 service. Customers can gain toll-free* access by dialing (800) CALL-411 (800-225-5411) from any phone to find and connect to local businesses and other local information, such as weather updates, movie show times and airline information. People using a cell phone with Internet access can also receive links to traffic maps from Live Search 411. "Microsoft is building on several years of innovation in imagery and 3-D visualization, adding some of the most significant innovations to driving directions technology in the last several years and expanding how our current 185 million customers can experience the improvements to the core of Live Search to include access from a wider variety of clients, platforms and devices," said Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of the Search & Advertising Platform Group at Microsoft. "Collectively, these improvements build on the work we did in core relevance and differentiated vertical experiences, and are an important milestone in our efforts in delivering a comprehensive, innovative search offering that includes mobile, mapping, Web and local services for customers to find what they need, when they need it, on any device." Today's announcement comes on the heels of the release on Sept. 26 of several new capabilities for Live Search, which included significant improvements in relevance and coverage in the core Web search service and expanded the range and depth of information available in areas where most customers were doing most of their queries -- entertainment, shopping, health and local searches. Today's release offers these key features: Maps and Directions * Innovative driving directions. The new Live Search offers more accurate and easy-to-use driving directions, including dynamic rerouting of directions based on real-time traffic information, one- click directions that allow drivers to get only essential directions to their destination with no starting point needed, and inline hints that tell drivers if they have gone too far based on local landmarks. Combined with new, one-page printing, these new enhancements have taken driving directions to the next level. * Innovative visualization and 3-D. Coverage of bird's-eye and 3-D imagery has been increased to cover 80 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, nearly 200 complete cities are available in 3-D, and customers can now combine views of 3-D imagery with Live Search's unique 45-degree bird's-eye images, giving a complete and detailed geolocation experience. In addition, people who use Live Search Maps can create and share their own 3-D models of buildings through an alliance with Dassault Systemes. * Innovative local content index including user-generated content. The new local search capabilities in Live Search include not only a broad set of expert sources but also broad access to user-generated content from Live Search and from across the entire Web, through searchable user-created collections and Keyhole Markup Language (KML) support. * Virtual Earth platform updates. The Virtual Earth(TM) platform is the underlying technology behind well over 1,000 partner mapping solutions as well as Live Search Maps. Updates in version 6.0 of Virtual Earth include multipoint trip routing; enhanced geocoding that combines results for multiple geocoders; rooftop geocoding, which provides more precise geocoding results; map control support for Safari 2.0; and the release of MapCruncher beta, making it easier to publish maps overlaid in an application using the Virtual Earth map control. More details on the Virtual Earth platform can be found at http://dev.live.com/virtualearth. Mobile Enhancements * Live Search for Windows Mobile with voice input. The updated Live Search for Windows Mobile(R) 5.0 and 6.0 will be available for download for free on Tuesday, Oct. 16, and now includes voice input (beta version), gas prices, and hours of operation for businesses. The service can also use Global Positioning System (GPS) data on GPS-enabled phones to provide location-aware local search for customers. * Live Search 411. Jointly developed with Tellme Networks Inc., acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, a new toll-free number will be available for anyone using any kind of phone to access the power of Live Search. Users can simply dial (800) CALL-411 (800-225-5411) and say the city and state, then ask for the business or business category to hear a list of options. Users say, "Connect me," to instantly connect to the business. Cell phone users can ask for a text message with a link to a map of the business.* * Live Search for use with BlackBerry(R) Devices. Live Search designed for use with BlackBerry devices is in beta and will be available for download for free on Tuesday, Oct. 16. It is a new offering designed for use on BlackBerry OS 4.0.2 or later phones, and customers with GPS-enabled phones can use location awareness to enhance their searches. More information on the mobile offerings will be available at http://www.LiveSearchMobile.com and http://www.LiveSearch411.com. Market availability for specific features varies. More information on these updated features and services can be found on the following Microsoft team blogs: http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch and http://virtualearth.spaces.live.com. About Windows Live and MSN Windows Live(TM), a comprehensive set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN(R) attracts more than 465 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. Windows Live and Live Search are available at http://www.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. About Microsoft Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. * Mobile providers may charge a fee for placing calls. Microsoft, Virtual Earth, Windows Mobile and Windows Live are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. All others are trademarks of their respective owners.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.