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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Microsoft Takes on Craigslist

Microsoft's Craigslist killer is almost Live, available as a restricted beta site. Microsoft's twist on the free service, called Live Expo, includes being able to restrict who can see your listings to only known groups (such as Messenger buddies) or to everyone, any being able to start a chat with a seller from a listing.

You can specify a geographic range for your Expo search, and the service also enables you to instantly map the seller's location. For now, the beta is limited to Microsofties and folks associated with the University of Washington, and the company will roll out the beta test on a regional basis.

Being able to IM sellers instantly is a promising application, especially if you want to sell or buy things in a hurry, such as concert tickets. Instant messaging is underused as a commerce application today, and someday we'll probably be sharing our protected identities and paying each other with virtual cash that way.

Even if Expo turns out to be cooler than Craigslist, it will be hard to wrest the millions of users from the anti-corporate site. Craigslist is dealing with a highly questionable lawsuit concerning vioations of the fair housing act, but it seems doubtful that Microsoft or any competitors will keep the site from growing.

By John Gartner at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

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