SEARCH ENGINE HAULS IN VISITORS AS MICROSOFT FLOUNDERS IN ITS EFFORTS TO EARN MORE FROM ONLINE OFFERINGS
Microsoft may have been willing to spend years developing Vista, the long-delayed upgrade of its Windows operating system, but when Bill Gates was presented with a plan for finally beating Google in Internet search technology, he gave the engineers just 100 days.
``Full-speed ahead,'' Gates told Stephen Lawler, the leader of the just-formed Virtual Earth team. The team met Gates' first deadline, as well as other equally punishing milestones in the two years that followed.
But the effort has yet to pay off. Indeed, the harder the coders from Redmond race after the crew from Mountain View, the more Google seems to pull ahead.
During the past year, Microsoft introduced a slew of online offerings. In addition to the widely praised Virtual Earth, an exact 3-D representation of major cities, there were three new search services, a new portal, online video, classified ads, mobile e-mail and social networking. And perhaps most importantly, there was new adCenter software released in May that was supposed to help Microsoft make more money from its online offerings.
The result: The number of visitors to Microsoft's sites has not budged, while the amount of time they have spent there has dropped. Advertising sales have fallen. Meanwhile Google's traffic and advertising have continued to surge.