Microsoft officially started its new Internet search engine crafted to compete with offerings from rival online powerhouses Google and Yahoo.
Microsoft announced that its "Live Search" online portal was opened in 47 markets worldwide to complement MSN and Windows Live Internet-scouring services that attract an estimated 465 million visitors monthly.
"The launch of Live Search is a significant milestone for our services business," said Microsoft vice president Christopher Payne.
"This is just the beginning. We look forward to continued investment in search to deliver services that bring new levels of control and personalization to the Web experience."
Users had tinkered with test "beta" versions of Live Search and given feedback to the Redmond, Washington, software giant, which said it used suggestions and complaints to refine the software.
The new search engine's website, www.live.com, opens to a clean, uncluttered page with a query box near the center.
Microsoft said "Live.com" used Live Search to find and track news, images, video, weblogs and other Internet information and services.
The engine features enhanced uses of "bird's-eye imagery" and compatibility with "smart phones" and other handheld computer devices, according to the company.
Microsoft has been testing and phasing in "Windows Live" software since late last year. Its next-generation operating system, branded "Vista," was on track to be released in January after some embarrassing delays.