Microsoft launched an overhauled news search service this week that brings together stories, photos and video from around the world. It's another step in...

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Microsoft launched an overhauled news search service this week that brings together stories, photos and video from around the world.

It’s another step in the company’s effort to improve its Internet search service and catch the runaway leader, Google. Google News was introduced in test form in 2002.

Microsoft is aiming to release major updates to its Live Search offerings twice a year, in spring and fall. Live Search News is part of the spring update, which also included a traffic-tracking feature for Live Maps.

Microsoft has said it’s focusing on improving Live Search in specific topic and content areas that attract a lot of interest, such as shopping and entertainment.

“News is another one of those areas where there’s a lot of searches,” said Justin Osmer, a senior product manager. “And we’ve had a news category or a news vertical for a while, but to be honest, hadn’t put a lot of effort to it.”

Live Search News uses computer algorithms to identify the most important stories of the day. No human intervention is involved in the day-to-day selection or placement of stories on the results page.

Another feature of the service presents local news stories based on a user’s IP address, so users based in Washington will get a strip of results from Washington newspapers and television stations on one side of the page.

The Microsoft service currently draws from a “huge list” of sources, though an exact number was not available. The company plans to initially limit the sources to what it calls “reputable news sources,” said Osmer. “So those are news outlets like newspapers, magazines, broadcast and cable shows, and Web sites initially.”

Blogs could be added in the future.

Google News gathers stories from “more than 4,500 English-language news sources worldwide,” according to its Web site.

As with other forms of Internet search, the news aggregation services will make money by displaying relevant advertising next to the search results. Live Search News does not currently carry advertising, but it could in the future, Osmer said.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com