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MSN Re-Search Revisited

Two years after conceding his company erred in failing to develop its own search engine, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer boasted Thursday of progress in fighting industry leaders Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

Redmond-based Microsoft only recently began using its own technology for delivering search result. Nielsen/Net Ratings reported that Google had 49 percent of the U.S. search market share in March, while Yahoo had 22.5 percent and MSN Search had 11 percent. The MSN adCenter Search service for pay-per-clickl advertising “officially” went live last week.

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“I think we’ll look back on this as the DOS era of search,” said Christopher Payne, a corporate vice president in charge of Windows Live Search. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, speaking at the same conference Wednesday, conceded that Google has done “a great job” on building a search engine and advertising platform. But he insisted Microsoft’s effort is strong. “I think this is one of the rare cases where we’re being underestimated,” Gates said.

Ballmer said Thursday the company plans to spend $1.1 billion in research and development for that unit in its fiscal year ending in June 2007, up from $500 million in the 2005 fiscal year and $700 million in the current fiscal year.

Microsoft shares rose 27 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $23.44 in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Thursday, a day after the stock slid to a new 52-week low. [24×7]

MS Makes Massive Acquisition
Microsoft Corp. has agreed to buy Massive Inc., a closely held seller of video-game advertisements, to gain early entry into a new ad market. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Massive, based in New York, has agreements with more than 30 game publishers, including THQ Inc. and Konami Corp., and has run campaigns for Nokia Oyj and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. [24×7]

Guily Plea in Seattle Botnet Case
A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a “botnet” attack last year that caused the system at Seattle’s Northwest Hospital to malfunction. Christopher Maxwell, 20, of Vacaville, faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced by a federal judge in Seattle on Aug. 4.

Maxwell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and to damage a protected computer, and intentionally damaging a protected computer by taking part in a botnet rampage triggered in December 2005. [24×7]