updated 6/3/2008 4:35:48 PM ET 2008-06-03T20:35:48

The executive in charge of Microsoft Corp.'s search efforts acknowledged Tuesday that the company's "Live" brand for search and online services leaves much to be desired.

Now that Microsoft has abandoned its $47.5 billion takeover bid for competitor Yahoo Inc., its marketing team is working on fixing Microsoft's search image to make it more competitive with Google Inc., Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platforms and services division said at a search advertising conference in Seattle hosted by the parent company of news site SearchEngineLand.com.

Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand, asked Johnson if he meant Microsoft wants to "change" its image in search instead of fix it.

"Fix means fix," Johnson replied. "If that means change, we'll change."

Microsoft's Live brand, which decorates a mishmash of sites and applications, has been the recurring butt of jokes made by industry analysts who have a hard enough time keeping the company's unwieldy product names straight without it tacking on an extra "Live."

Sullivan has suggested in past interviews with The Associated Press that Microsoft should revert to the MSN search brand, or switch to Microsoft Search.

Microsoft is working hard to convince investors, advertisers and Web surfers that it has a fallback plan for improving the quality of its search engine and boosting traffic without help from Yahoo.

So far, the company is focusing on searches that lead to some kind of transaction, which Johnson called "commercial intent queries."

Last month, Microsoft launched a shopping search site that gives Web surfers a rebate on purchases from advertisers. It also relaunched Farecast, a Seattle-based travel search startup it acquired this year, as part of its network of sites.

During his talk Tuesday, Johnson mentioned real estate as another "commercial intent" search category and said Microsoft's success in improving its search market position will be measured by whether it can raise its share of searches that lead to a purchase.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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