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Live Expo Nudges Craigslist, Papers

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A public beta test of Microsoft’s social listing service, Expo Live, debuted online today to stake out the company’s claim on the classifieds market.

Newspaper publishers everywhere probably greeted the debut of Windows Live Expo in its beta form with all the enthusiasm of Seahawks fans after the last Super Bowl.

The project-formerly-known-as-Fremont made its entrance, and Microsoft product unit manager Garry Wiseman extolled the virtues of his project, saying in a statement, “What sets Windows Live Expo apart is that people can set their own search parameters for goods and services. They can define their own marketplace universe.”

Every product and service available through Live Expo is geographically identified, or geo-tagged, by zip code. This permits users of the Live Expo to define searches within an area and know that results can be found in that space.

The project also boasts integration with Windows Live Local. That lets users see maps and aerial images of neighborhoods where listings can be found.

Microsoft also has an eye on real estate searches and transactions. Within the Live Expo search, users can search on square footage of a home, pricing, and location. Those searches can be narrowed to a radius as small as 25 miles.

Further integration with MSN Messenger lets a group limit listings to just those people in a Contact List or an email group. Live Expo gives examples for groups in the Profile each user creates after agreeing to the service’s terms and conditions; a user can note they want to list and search among college classmates, or among co-workers, or both.

To place a listing, the user chooses from one of eight categories: Autos, Events, Housing, Jobs, Merchandise, People, Pets, and Services. Then a new drop-down box appears where the subcategory is selected, and then the type of listing, like For Sale or Wanted, can be chosen.

Using Merchandise – Musical Instruments – For Sale as an example, the next screen that appears prompts for the item title, description, and price. City, state, zip code, and country information autofill from the user profile. An expiration date from 1 day to 4 weeks can be set.

The seller can make the listing available to everyone, or just to Messenger buddies and/or email groups. Options to place the listing to the user’s MSN Space and to display an IM contact can be set too. The user has the choice of adding images, picking a different layout template, or simply posting the listing at that point.

Presently, Live Expo does not have a payment service, like eBay’s PayPal or Google Payments, in place. The service compares more with Craigslist now than either eBay or Google Base. Not to mention competing with all those newspapers and their classified businesses.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Live Expo Nudges Craigslist, Papers
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