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Microsoft Loses More Ground In Online Search

The number of online searches made on Microsoft Windows Live Search fell 12% in November to 8.2% of the total number of Web searches, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Microsoft continued to lose market share in online search in November, while rivals Google and Yahoo made significant gains, a monthly U.S. study shows.

The number of online searches made on Microsoft Windows Live Search, the replacement for MSN Search, fell 12% in November to 8.2% of the total number of Web searches, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Google and Yahoo, meanwhile, grew by 31% and 27%, respectively. Google had 49.5% of the market; Yahoo had 24.3%.

The November numbers are a continuation of Microsoft's steady decline in market share for online search. Monthly figures published by comScore Networks, HitWise, and Nielsen/NetRatings between October 2005 and October 2006 have shown Microsoft falling, while Google steadily gained, and No. 2 Yahoo stayed about the same.

In acknowledging the steady drop, Microsoft has said it's expected, given the company's focus this year on bringing Live Search out of beta. With the search engine now in general release, Microsoft expects to eventually increase market share through a broad marketing strategy and strategic partnerships, Adam Sohn, a spokesman for Microsoft's Windows Live group, has said.

Reversing the decline is pivotal for the company to deliver on its strategy to make search a key component of its push to catch up with Google in the multibillion-dollar online advertising market. Over the last several years, Google has reaped billions of dollars by selling text ads related to search results. Microsoft was late to the game, launching its AdCenter services for online advertisers in the United States in May. Yahoo launched an overhaul of its ad services in October.

Rounding out the top five search engines in November were AOL Search, which grew 11% to capture a 6.2% share, and, which rose 33% to a 2.6% share, Nielsen/NetRatings said. About 6.2 billion online searches were conducted last month in the United States.

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