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jmke 10th November 2004 14:36

Microsoft to Launch Search, Aims to Double Ad Sales
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) will launch on Thursday its long-promised Internet search engine, which will compete directly with market leader Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , sources close to the company said on Tuesday.

The world's largest software maker had promised to enter the search market with its own technology by the end of the year, as it seeks to attract more users to boost advertising revenue for its MSN Internet division.

Earlier on Tuesday, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told shareholders at the company's annual meeting Microsoft would beat Google's technology and double its advertising revenue in the next five years.

"We will catch up, we will surpass," Ballmer said.

The company had no official comment on its plans for the new MSN Search service, which has been operating on a trial basis at since the summer.

Microsoft, which has been relying on Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) unit Inktomi to power its search services, decided to enter the search game after Google took the lead and turned itself into a multi-billion dollar company.

Google shares shed 2 percent, or $3.35, to $165.35 in after-hours trading following release of the news. 58

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