Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), stepping up its efforts to compete with rival Google Inc. (GOOG), will offer consumers a preview of its technology for searching the Internet, beginning Thursday.

Microsoft has long offered a search engine on its MSN Web site, but the technology behind it has been powered by subsidiaries of Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) Earlier this year, the Redmond-based software giant conceded that it had missed a large market opportunity by not developing its own search technology, and announced plans to launch its own search engine.

The preview that begins Thursday won't include technology to let people search their own computer desktops as well as the broader Internet. But the company has promised that desktop search functionality by year's end.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has already beat Microsoft to the desktop, having launched its desktop search tool (search) in mid-October.

Microsoft declined to comment further on what features will be available in Thursday's preview.