Microsoft will offer enhanced search results narrowed to local geographies, in order to compete with similar offerings from Yahoo! and Google. Yellow Pages listings and interactive maps will be added to the MSN Search "near me" feature. The move is seen as an important one, since there is a growing industry focus on the ability to search within individual communities.

"The search engines have traditionally not done particularly well at helping people find answers to local questions," Erik Jorgensen, general manager of MSN Local Search and MapPoint said.

"I think one of people's frustrations with the Internet, still, is that while I can get information about the weather conditions in Bogota, Colombia, I can't get the school menu from the grade school down the street," said Neal Polachek, senior vice president at The Kelsey Group advisory and consulting firm in Princeton, N.J.