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Microsoft Buys Web Map Company

Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it has acquired a United Kingdom online mapping company to enhance its existing Windows Live Web-based services.

The software maker did not say what it paid for Multimap, which provides street-level maps, travel directions and local information. Multimap also offers hotel and restaurant-booking services and builds private-label mapping tools for companies, including Hilton Hotels and Ford Motor Co.

Microsoft said Multimap will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft as part of its Search and Virtual Earth teams.

"This acquisition will play a significant role in the future growth of our search business," said Sharon Baylay, a general manager in Microsoft's online services group, in a statement.

Microsoft's search engine gets fewer queries each month than No. 1 Google Inc. or No. 2 Yahoo Inc., but the company has said that improvements to its search engine this fall made its results just as good as Google's. At that time, Microsoft also retooled the interface of its own map-based local search site.

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