Microsoft Tests Classified Format

Microsoft is internally testing its own classifieds offering under the codename Fremont. Part of Windows Live, the ad-supported listings will incorporate geo-targeting and social networking features.

Fremont will be free to users and supported by local contextual advertising that will appear next to search results, said MSN product unit manager, Garry Wiseman.

The upcoming classifieds are said to combine “listing, social networking and community features in a trustworthy environment and feature innovative delivery and access methods,” according to a Microsoft spokesperson. Users can select parameters for each listing to determine who gets access. A post can be limited to a user’s social network. Alternately, ads can be broadcast to local sites or Microsoft’s whole network, depending on user preferences.

The classifieds offering is widely seen to be a competitor to Google Base, which the search giant recently unveiled in beta.

“[Fremont] has some broader features like community and services,” Greg Sterling, managing editor and program director of The Kelsey Group, told ClickZ News.

Microsoft is expected to geo-tag each listing to aid in local searches. Sterling called the service a geo-targeting play. “Given that they have the Virtual Earth and want to put that into their listings, I can easily imagine the listings plotted on a map,” said Sterling.

Once launched, Fremont will be integrated with Messenger, Spaces and Search and satellite mapping will be enabled via Windows Live Local (formerly called Virtual Earth).

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