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In addition to tapping into Microsoft's rich mapping and directions offerings, users will be able to access Sprint portals that offer music downloading, ring tones, games, and screen savers.

W. David Gardner

November 16, 2006

2 Min Read

As part of its suddenly aggressive drive to capture online advertising revenue, Microsoft reported Thursday that cellular carrier Sprint will put Microsoft's Windows Live Search on its advanced handsets. The feature is live and is available for Sprint's PCS Vision and Power Vision handsets immediately, according to Sprint.

"It's very easy to use, and it automatically comes up on the [screen]," says Michael Inserra, Sprint's director of strategic alliances. "This is the first use of Windows Live Search on phones." Inserra says the alliance is broad and covers product sets and sales initiatives. Local searches with targeted advertising will be featured. Users simply type in their zip codes or addresses; later GPS technology will automatically pinpoint users' locations. The announcement comes a day after Microsoft announced its first foray into Wi-Fi with a citywide deal in Portland, Ore., replete with heavy local advertising prospects. Microsoft has trailed Google and Yahoo in search and advertising-supported search and has been moving aggressively in recent months in an effort to catch up. The Microsoft Live Search feature will eventually by available for Nextel's IDEN handsets, Inserra says. Sprint and Nextel merged recently, and Sprint has emerged as the dominant partner. In addition to tapping into Microsoft's rich mapping and directions offerings, users will be able to access Sprint portals. Sprint, for instance, operates a popular music downloading site and offers a range of ring tones, games, and screen savers. The Microsoft search function will dovetail nicely with Sprint's future plans to deploy WiMax nationwide, Inserra says. The mobile phone service provider is also a pacesetter in 3G and notes that it has already deployed CDMA2000 EV-DO Rev A in San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. Sprint is launching the service Thursday in Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, Conn., and Pittsburgh. A total of 20 markets will have the high-speed data service by the end of the year, Inserra says. "In recent years, the search box has fundamentally changed the way people interact with the Internet, but we have only just begun to scratch the surface for what search and live Internet services can do in the mobile space," said Steve Berkowitz, senior VP of Microsoft's online services group, in a statement. Sprint says the alliance will enable it to quickly leverage new and future Microsoft technologies through the software firm's Connected Services Framework as they're developed.

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