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Microsoft Offers Peek at Classified Service, Local Street Maps

Microsoft Corp. unveiled several new online technologies Tuesday, including early versions of an Internet classified service and a local search function that provides extremely detailed pictures of local streets.

Microsoft also said it plans to begin testing a desktop e-mail product designed to work with the company's online e-mail accounts, similar to Microsoft Outlook Express.

The spate of online efforts are part of the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker's broader goal of improving its Internet-based offerings, to better compete with rivals such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

The new search function, dubbed "street view," aims to give people a driver's view of downtown Seattle and San Francisco, using pictures detailed enough to make out cars and people.

Available in test form, it's similar to Amazon.com Inc.'s A9 search engine, which provides detailed street-level views of certain cities.

Microsoft had previously announced plans to start the U.S. online classified service, called Windows Live Expo, in the hopes of competing with the likes of Craigslist.

The test version launched Tuesday distinguishes itself from competitors by giving people the option to narrowly define who sees their listings.

For example, sellers could make their goods available only to people who work at their company, based on e-mail addresses. Or they could limit their offerings only to people on their instant messenger "buddy list."

It also hopes to be more geographically personalized by asking sellers to provide a ZIP code for searching purposes.

Microsoft shares lost 18 cents to close at $26.87 Tuesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market