02:54 PM

Microsoft Backtracks On Timetable To Beat Google

After a top exec in Europe weighs in with a bold prediction, Microsoft tries to bring the rhetoric down a notch. The software giant will compete against the online search engine, but it isn't making any precise predictions.

Microsoft Corp. has tempered the chest-beating of its European president who said last week that the software giant's online search engine would be "more relevant" in the U.S. market than Google.

The statement by Neil Holloway left some search industry experts scratching their heads, wondering why Holloway would make a prediction that establishes a timetable for releasing what would amount to hefty advancements in MSN Search.

Ken Moss, general manager for Web search at MSN, said in the company's blog that Microsoft wasn't making any predictions in its competition with Google, which Microsoft executives say is among their top Internet rivals.

"We won't try to predict the progress of our competitors and so we won't forecast when we might take the lead, but this is a long term game and we are committed to helping drive the next wave of innovation in search for our customers," Moss said.

However, Christopher Payne, vice president of search at MSN, is scheduled to show "some intriguing improvements" to the service this week at ETech in San Diego, Moss said.

At a tech and media summit sponsored by news agency Reuters, Holloway, Microsoft president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the company's search engine would surpass Google's this year.

""What we're saying is that in six months' time we'll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google," Holloway said. "The quality of our search and the relevance of our search from a solution perspective to the consumer will be more relevant."

Within the U.S. search market, MSN Search is a distant third place to Google, which has a market share that's more than four times that of Microsoft's, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Yahoo is second with less than half of Google's, which topped 48 percent in January.

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