New Windows Live Services for Mobile Phones

Redmond software giant Microsoft Corporation has announed three new Windows Live services for mobile phones: category-based local searching, a mapping and directions service, and a real-time traffic service covering 25 major U.S. metropolitan areas.

“People want to stay connected and informed wherever they are, and our aim is to deliver easy-to-use, familiar mobile services that keep people connected to the people and information they care about,” said Steve Berkowitz, senior VP of Microsoft’s Online Services Group, in a release. “Live Search for mobile and Windows Live for Windows Mobile are the latest examples of our commitment to enhancing the mobile search and services experience for our customers, and helping mobile operators, OEMs and advertising partners access new revenues and differentiate their products in this competitive mobile market.”

Available in the U.S. and U.K. markets, Live Search for Windows and Live Search for Java are client applications for both Windows Mobile and Java-based mobile devices, including the Nokia Series 40 and Series 60 devices, the Motorola RAZR/SLVR family, and selected mobile devices from LG and Samsung.

Category-based mobile searching enables users to find local businesses, points of interest, and services without any key entry on their mobile device: pre-categorized data is fetched based on a user’s current location, and users have the options to save search results to contact lists, fetch directions, present the locations on a map, or (gasp!) actually place a call. Users can enter search terms to find business and residential listings, and listing results can be sent along to a friend.

The maps and directions service enables users to enter starting and end points to receive turn-by-turn directions and maps with either road or aerial views. The service ties in with Micrsoft’s Virtual Earth technology to provide directions and photos, although that aerial imagery is available only to Windows Mobile users.

The real-time traffic service covers more than 25 U.S. urban centers, including Chicago, Boston, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Maps display current traffic conditions with easy-to-see green, yellow, and red gradients. (We’ve seen this technology used in Seattle; honestly, they can ditch green.)

The software is free for download from Microsoft’s Live Search for mobile Web site; the site also offers lists of features and device compatibility.

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