Microsoft's MSN division yesterday launched a final version of the toolbar for its MSN Search service. The free toolbar includes a desktop...

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Microsoft’s MSN division yesterday launched a final version of the toolbar for its MSN Search service. The free toolbar includes a desktop search tool that Microsoft said can search a computer’s files as quickly as it searches the Web.

MSN said that in coming months it will introduce tabbed browsing, a feature that shows several Web sites at once on a Web browser. The division also said it is developing a desktop search tool for companies to use and will have a test version out by the end of the year.


Internet addiction rivals coffee habit

More people are willing to give up their morning coffee rather than give up using the Internet at work for personal reasons. Websense, a software company whose products monitor employee Net use, released a survey that found 52 percent of staffers apparently find the Web as addictive as java. Only 44 percent said they’d trade Internet access for a cup of coffee.

The survey, which included company information-technology executives and office workers, also found 93 percent of staffers use the Internet on the job, up from 86 percent last year.


CEOs are wise to shun own blogs

More than 1,500 employees at Microsoft have their own Web logs, but the company’s chairman doesn’t. And that’s not likely to change, according to USA Today.

While a blog by a prominent chief executive “would attract instant traffic, could influence public opinion, perhaps steer legislation and maybe sell a few widgets, it’s going to take a brave CEO with a thick skin to enter the blogosphere,” the article said.

Analysts tell the newspaper blogging CEOs or other top executives would be targets for critics, regulators and unhappy investors.


New service offers video-search access

Google has competition in the business of indexing and providing search access to video.

TVEyes launched Podscope last month, offering free keyword search of podcasts. Now Podscope is encouraging people to upload audio and video files. Google also is accepting video submissions but has not begun offering a search service for them.

TVEyes said files are processed through voice-recognition technology and searched word by word. The result is a transcript that can then be accessed by search queries

Critical Mention

PBS news segments now available online

The producers of the Public Broadcasting System’s long-running evening news show have licensed segments for online access. Critical Mention, a subscription-monitoring service whose customers are corporations interested in knowing how they are perceived in the media, announced the agreement with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, which oversees the nightly “NewsHour” report on PBS.

Sean Morgan, chief executive of Critical Mention, said the deal is part of a company objective “to enable content producers and broadcasters to participate in the explosive revenue opportunities of aggregated video search.” Morgan told MediaPost Publications he would like to work with local market broadcasters to make their program segments available online.

However, he worries that high costs associated with technology to collect, search and distribute video, as well as the expense of licensing it, make such a consumer-level business difficult.

Fathom Online

Advertisers pay more for word searches

Advertisers paid as much as 20 percent more for keyword search terms last month as they did in March. Fathom Online, a search marketing firm, reported prices paid for keywords geared to results by search engines such as Google and MSN Search rose to an average of $1.75, up from $1.60 in March.

Terms related to mortgages gained the most, Fathom reported. The average price per click for some financing terms rose to $6.49 last month, from $5.39 in March. Prices of mortgage terms have more than doubled since last fall. Keywords in the automotive, travel, retail and consumer-services categories either fell or held steady at March’s rates.


Podcasts to showcase new music talent

One of the music industry’s major rights-licensing groups has begun working with Internet program producers to promote artists and their music online. BMI announced a series of audio programs available for downloading to MP3 players, known as podcasts, “to bring promising new songwriter/artists to the attention of key industry executives.”

The programs “should be an excellent way of letting new talent reach its audience,” said Phil Graham, BMI senior vice president.

Neilsen NetRatings

Online newspaper usage is increasing

The newspaper industry’s trade group in D.C. is trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

Less than two weeks after reporting major papers in the United States saw a 1.9 percent drop in circulation over the past six months, the Newspaper Association of America trumpeted research Thursday that shows nearly 43 million people read an newspaper online in March, a 3.1 percent increase from a year ago.

“In addition to the leadership position national newspapers hold online, newspapers also typically own the leading local information sites in their markets,” said John Sturm, the newspaper group’s president.

The research, conducted by Nielsen NetRatings, found a higher trend of online newspaper usage.

The number of unique visitors grew by nearly 9 percent from February to March this year; the number of pages viewed by each person was up 38 percent; and the time each person spent at the site rose 6 percent.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and MarketWatch