With search site relaunch, Jeeves loses top billing

Ask Jeeves becomes Ask.com with simplified interface and new tools including enhanced maps, encyclopedia search.

In officially becoming Ask.com, the former Ask Jeeves search site is unveiling on Monday its new main page, featuring a new logo, a simplified interface and new tools including enhanced maps and driving directions, encyclopedia search and Web-based desktop search.

Ask.com is minimal in design, with the red logo against a white background, the search box and a new customizable "toolbox" with shortcuts to 10 default search tools including maps, images, weather, dictionary and local search.

Ask.com also has beefed up its maps and driving directions tools to add walking directions, dragable location pins that automatically recalculate directions, the ability to right-click on a spot on a map to add it to a route, aerial photography that can be combined with regular street views, and the ability to print aerial shots for a fee.

The new tools also include encyclopedia search that displays direct answers from Wikipedia, Houghton Mifflin and others at the top of the results page, and Web-based desktop search for looking for information on the computer's hard drive. The company already offers a standalone desktop search application.

In addition to the new look and tools, the site will try to differentiate itself from competitors by having fewer ads and editorial results displayed above advertisements, Ask.com executives say.

"We want to get the message out that Ask.com is a serious alternative to any search engine out there," said Daniel Read, vice president of consumer products at Ask.com.

The search engine, ranked fifth, has been revamping for several years. It promoted President Steve Berkowitz to chief executive in late 2003 and was acquired by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActive Corp. last year.

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