Hot on the heels of internet search engine Google's entry into online listings, software titan Microsoft is also moving into the classified ads business.

MSN, Microsoft's online services arm, is reported to have been trialling a service that allows users to place details of items in a specially designed database. The details are then searchable by the company's internet search engine.

The triaL has been codenamed 'Fremont' after a district in Microsoft's home city of Seattle, US, which hosts a regular weekly market. It could be ready for public testing within weeks.

The service is designed to become another major competitor to the shrinking classified ads sector in newspapers.

Microsoft has made its intentions for the new offering rather clearer than Google has for its Base service [WAMN: 16-Nov-05].

The San Jose, California-headquartered company has said it has no immediate plans to serve ads. Vp of product management, Salar Kamangar says: "This is all part of our effort to make it really easy for anyone with information to make is accessible from Google."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff