Microsoft Corp. is launching a beta version of Windows Live Expo in the USA. Previously in closed beta, Windows Live Expo is now accessible to all US-based customers and expands the traditional classified ad concept by providing social networking and community features through a free online service.
According to Microsoft, most classified advertising services generalize product location by a pre-defined city location, regardless of where in the city the product is located. However, all products and services listed in Windows Live Expo are geographically identified, or geo-tagged, by ZIP code, not city, which specifically defines where the product is located.
Windows Live Expo customers also have the option to search for items within a radius as small as 25 miles or as large as the entire United States, making it easier to define a search. Windows Live Expo listings are also integrated with MSN's satellite-image- based Windows Live Local so customers can view maps and aerial imagery of neighborhoods they may want to live in or see exactly where this weekend's garage sale is.
The platform allows customers to choose to view only listings specific to their MSN Messenger Contact List or personal e-mail groups, helping to add a level of trust in transactions. With MSN Messenger integration, sales can now take mere minutes, as buyer and seller discuss, negotiate and close a deal via instant messaging.
Also, new with today's beta rollout, when someone sends a message about their listing, an alert can be sent to customers via e-mail, instant messaging or mobile phone via the MSN Alerts service. The company says with upcoming Windows Live Expo releases, listings will be accessible via MSN Spaces blogs.