Microsoft Adds Free 411 to Windows Live

Microsoft's new 1-800-CALL-411 service allows users to access local business information for free. The software giant has also unveiled voice-activated mobile search and mobile maps with real-time traffic data. The upgrades are part of Microsoft's effort to have its Live services become synonymous with search on any device, said Erik Jorgenson, general manager of Live Search Maps.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) will begin offering consumers free 411 information, mobile maps containing real-time traffic information and voice-activated mobile search as part of a major upgrade of its Internet services that goes live this morning.
The free services echo offerings rolled out by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) earlier this year. Microsoft said its new Live products are better and more comprehensive.
The new 1-800-CALL-411 service is based on voice-recognition technology developed by Tellme, which was acquired by Microsoft in March. Google Labs in April released a free 1-800-GOOG-411 service.

Searching for Businesses
Anyone with a phone can use these services to request the telephone number, address and driving directions for a local business. Microsoft said it will eventually offer residential lookups as well.
People whose phones have mobile browsers will be able to get real-time traffic information by going to Previously, this kind of information was available only for those who downloaded mobile mapping applications from Google, Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) or Microsoft.
Erik Jorgenson, general manager of Live Search Maps, said Microsoft wants its Live services to become synonymous with search on any device.
Trying to Close the Gap
Microsoft, the No. 3 provider of Internet search after Google and Yahoo, has been steadily improving its search services in an effort to close the large gap between it and Google.
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, Google conducted more than 53 percent of all U.S. Internet searches in August, compared with about 20 percent for Yahoo and about 13 percent for Microsoft. Those measurements represent a 3 percent improvement for Microsoft compared with August 2006.
Microsoft also is unveiling improvements to its mobile search software and online mapping product today. People who download an update to the search software for mobile phones will be able to begin using voice-activated search. (For a list of compatible devices, go to
Microsoft will also begin offering a free, three-dimensional online modeling tool developed in partnership with Dassault Systemes. The tool, which will let people place their own 3-D building models on Live maps, is similar to Google SketchUp. It's available at

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