REDMOND, Washington: Not content with covert propaganda warfare against its mightiest rival, Microsoft has now launched a twin flank new product-enhancement attack in a bid to narrow the widening online gap between itself and Google.

In the UK, Bill Gates' praetorian guard on Thursday unveiled a beta video platform that enables advertisers to reach online consumers via the MSN network and Windows Live.

According to the Microsoft blurb, this will help brands to "maximise their advertising investments by immersing the brand message in the consumer's video experience".

Concurrent with the video offering, Microsoft also announced the introduction of a time-controlled advertising model designed to deliver ads at regular intervals, theoretically making them less intrusive.

Twelve million unique UK users per month view MSN Video, claims the company.

  • Meantime, on the western side of the pond, where Microsoft languishes on the lowest step of the web-search winners podium below Google and Yahoo, the software giant has also released a major update to its Live Search product.

    It features specialised content in the entertainment, shopping, health and local categories. Employing densest Microsoft-speak, the company said that up to 40% of searches fell into these "verticals".

    Says Satya Nadella, corporate vp of the search and advertising platform group: " With the core platform in place, we intend to win customers and earn their loyalty one query at a time."

    But at its present level in the search ratings (11.3%), MS has a way to go before its new gizmos enable it to catch-up Yahoo (23.3%) and Google (56.5%).

    Data sourced from Media Week (UK) and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff