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Microsoft, Sprint deal for mobile search

Windows Live Search bags more consumers

In a win for its aim to sell advertising through its Windows Live Search engine, Microsoft has unveiled a deal with Sprint to offer Windows Live Search capabilities through Sprint's mobile phone service.

Microsoft and Sprint plan to co-develop new service offerings for Sprint mobile service customers. The first of which will enable customers to use Windows Live Search for mobile on their wireless phones to search location-based content, such as stores and restaurants in the user's local area.

Sprint users will be able to use Windows Live Search to sift through Sprint's catalog of ringtones, games, screen savers and other services that are available for purchase from the service provider. And Windows Live Search location mapping and driving directions will also be available on mobile phones through the deal.

The search service is available immediately for free to Sprint PCS Vision and Sprint Power Vision subscribers on all phones that have data capability.

Besides helping customers find local services and make purchases, adding Windows Live Search to mobile phones with the Sprint service will be a good way for local businesses to display adverts on mobile search pages, Microsoft said. This, in turn, will bring in advertising revenue for Microsoft, the company's main objective for its search engine and other Windows Live services.

Leading search engine provider Google, which is the leader in online advertising revenue, has been looking to team with mobile service providers to provide mobile search. So far it has had little success. On Wednesday Google expanded a program that provides mobile devices with search results and text-based ads.

Microsoft first launched its Live services and plan to rebrand MSN Search under the Windows Live name in November 2005 in an effort to compete with Google and Yahoo for online advertising revenue.

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