Microsoft Provides Developers with Tools for Search, Mapping and Messaging

REDMOND, Wash., September 14, 2005 — Microsoft today released new application programming interfaces (APIs), Web services and other components designed to help developers build more innovative and powerful Web applications and services for consumers. These tools provide developers access to a broad array of resources for MSN Web Search, Windows Desktop Search, MSN Virtual Earth, MSN Messenger and more at the newly launched MSN Developer Center on MSDN.com.

Participants at this week’s Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles witnessed demonstrations of APIs that allow developers and businesses to embed Microsoft functionality in commercial applications and Web sites to deliver to consumers faster access to information and more flexibility and control over their search and communications experience. By integrating Microsoft technology through the newly released APIs, developers and businesses can realize new revenue streams while improving the products and services they make available to their customers.



Christopher Payne, Corporate Vice President, MSN Search & Shopping

“MSN is dedicated to supporting the Microsoft developer community with the best possible tools and resources,” says Christopher Payne, corporate vice president, MSN Search and Shopping at Microsoft. ““By working collaboratively with developers, we believe we can deliver on the full promise of the next wave of the Internet. We’re excited about the opportunity developers now have to further enhance Web applications and services through the MSN platform.”

Central to the new offerings is an API for the MSN search service, allowing developers to seamlessly incorporate the power of Web search into their applications. Also being released is an API for MSN Virtual Earth mapping service, which includes no-charge commercial access. Microsoft is leading the way in the industry to offer developers of commercial-scale applications no-charge access to Microsoft’s cutting edge mapping tools to enhance their applications.

In addition, MSN is making available the next version of its industry-leading MapPoint Web Service 4.0, as well as a platform for developers to build applications and offer compelling content to MSN’s more than 170 million instant messaging users.

Faster Access to More Information Through MSN Search

Developers now have access to the MSN Search Web Services APIs for non-commercial use. They can incorporate in their applications this world-class functionality that spans search results for Web site content, local attractions, maps and directions, digital satellite images and other sought-after information.

With MSN Search Web Services powering their Web sites or applications, developers can provide benefits to their customers including:

  • More queries: Each application can conduct up to 10,000 queries per day for free; distributing the application to other users with different IP addresses gives each Web site its own 10,000-query quota.

  • More results per query: Each query can return up to 50 results to provide a larger data set with which to work.

  • Easier distribution of applications: The process is simplified because users no longer have to obtain their own API key.

  • More ways to query, more control over results:

  • Advanced querying and sorting capabilities give developers more options for retrieving the results that users of their applications want to see.

  • Available search parameters include the ability to home in on Web pages that contain a specified file type, boost the ranking of pages that contain a supplemental term, weight rankings by the freshness of a site’s content, choose how heavily to weight a site’s popularity, and specify how much weight to give to an exact match of the query.

  • Developers also can specify multiple domains across which to search, or use the “near” location object to return results that are connected to a specified location.

MSN Virtual Earth Available at No Charge for Commercial Applications

Businesses and developers can also now access the API for MSN Virtual Earth beta for commercial use. The no-charge availability of MSN Virtual Earth with geographical local search capabilities (“what”/”where” search boxes) create a more cost-effective means for developers and business people to take advantage of Microsoft mapping tools to enhance their operation’s efficiency and provide new services for their customers. This will also create an opportunity for businesses to produce revenue by placing advertisements on their sites in a revenue-sharing model to be available next year.

Starting in January 2006, developers and businesses that prefer not to use the geographical local search capabilities or advertising will have the option to sign a contract with Microsoft that gives them transactions at a low cost and a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for their MSN Virtual Earth-enhanced applications.

Additionally, developers can utilize the MapPoint Web Service as their online mapping platform with millions of points of interest, mapping coverage for 26 countries, driving directions, numerous map styles, an SLA for enterprise reliability and an extranet for uploading custom information. 

Information about the MSN Virtual Earth API is available at the Via Virtual Earth Developer Center at http://www.viavirtualearth.com. This developer resource is a non-Microsoft-controlled Web site from which developers can download the MSN Virtual Earth map control and find other information to help them start creating Web content that incorporates the MSN Virtual Earth service.

MapPoint Web Service 4.0 Extends Coverage and Options

Developers will benefit from enhanced functionality and options for customization included in the newly announced MapPoint Web Service 4.0 featuring added mapping functionality, extended geographic coverage and expanded language support. MapPoint Web Service’s familiar development platform simplifies the process of creating mapping and location-aware applications and services to visualize business processes and data.

Among the features of MapPoint Web Service 4.0 are:

  • Support for Polygons: It’s now possible to conduct polygon spatial queries, ideal for scenarios in which customers want to define custom territories to improve productivity and efficiency, such as driver delivery areas. MapPoint Web Service 4.0 also offers command line tools that help convert existing ESRI, MapInfo, Autodesk, Intergraph and GML files to the MapPoint Web Service polygon file format.

  • Real-time traffic incidents: A searchable database of traffic accidents, backups/slowdowns and closures in more than 70 U.S. metro areas allows customers to view data about the incidents, including severity, whether traffic is being diverted and expected duration of the delay.

  • Expanded geographical coverage and new languages to support global markets: Included is detailed address information for an additional four countries or regions — Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan — for a total of 26 countries or regions. Language support is expanded to include Czech, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian (Bokmål) in addition to Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, U.K. English and U.S. English.

  • New map styles: New map styles for ease of use are supported, including simplified line-drawn maps that remove unnecessary details, night-time maps that provide easier readability under impaired-visibility conditions and urban inset maps to identify points of interest in major travel destinations.

Expanding the Global Reach of MSN Messenger

MSN has released for the first time MSN Messenger Activity APIs, enabling the development of new applications for customers to get more out of MSN Messenger. Through these tools developers will gain flexibility in the ability to create applications that can be used as an extension to MSN Messenger, enabling users to connect in more ways with people on their contact list. This program is a natural progression that builds on MSN games (MSN Instant Games Clubhouse) and other share activities that are already available in MSN Messenger.

As part of this initiative, MSN is also announcing the World’s Application Development contest, to inspire developers to create new applications that will benefit more than 170 million MSN customers around the world. Winning submissions will be eligible for prizes based on creativity, launches and use of other MSN services in the development process. More information is available at www.worldsbestapp.com.

One-Stop Resource of New MSN Tools

Located at http://msdn.microsoft.com/msn/, the new MSN Developer Center gives developers one-stop access to a full range of tools, technologies and guidance for greater success in building powerful applications that interact with MSN services and data. Resources include technical articles, newsgroups, forums, blogs and software developer kits (SDKs) for MSN Search, Windows Desktop Search and MSN Messenger.

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