Microsoft's Windows Live Expo opens for beta testing

Yesterday, Microsoft released a beta version of Windows Live Expo, which the company says expands the traditional classified ad concept by providing social networking and community features through a trustworthy, convenient and free online service.

Most classified advertising services generalize product location by a pre-defined city location, regardless of where in the city the product is located. However, all products and services listed in Windows Live Expo are geographically identified, or geo-tagged—by ZIP code, not city—which specifically defines where the product is located.

Windows Live Expo customers also have the option to search for items within a radius as small as 25 miles or as large as the entire United States, making it easier to define a search, Microsoft says. Windows Live Expo listings are also integrated with MSN's satellite-image-based Windows Live Local, so customers can view maps and aerial imagery of neighborhoods they may want to live in or see exactly where this weekend's garage sale is.

Unlike other classified services, Windows Live Expo allows customers to choose to view only listings specific to their MSN Messenger Contact List or personal email groups, adding a level of trust in transactions. With MSN Messenger integration, sales can now take only minutes, as buyer and seller discuss, negotiate and clinch a deal via instant messaging. Also, new with the beta rollout, when someone sends a message about their listing, an alert can be sent to customers via email, instant messaging or mobile phone via the MSN Alerts service. With upcoming Windows Live Expo releases, listings will be accessible via MSN Spaces blogs.

The Windows Live Expo beta beta is available now.