Microsoft today released a beta version of its localized MSN Search service, giving users the ability to search for web results, business listings or residential phone book listings based on geographic location.
Currently the beta is limited to users in the United States. You only need to enter a keyword together with a post code or city name to activate the local search.
Results are presented with a map or aerial picture provided through Microsoft's MapPoint Web Service. Satellite pictures are provided through a partnership with TerraServer-USA, a project that came out of Microsoft Research.
The company plans to further enhance the local search service by adding 'Instant Answers', a feature that will offer localized news, movie times, weather forecasts and event listings. Analysts believe local search will soon become a booming market. More details at VNU Net