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Microsoft tests Live ads

Display ads are showing up in Windows Live Mail, Office Live, MSN Spaces, as company dips deeper into ad market.

Microsoft has begun testing display ads across Windows Live Mail, Office Live and MSN Spaces.

The company said on Wednesday that is conducting tests under multiple ad formats as part of its strategy announced in November to offer Internet-based services supported by ads and subscriptions. The online versions of its software and services target small businesses and consumers.

Testing of the display ads for MSN Spaces is under way in Australia and Italy. Windows Live Mail display ads are being tested in such markets as Brazil, China, the United Kingdom and the United States. Office Live display ads, meanwhile, are being tested in the U.S. only, and the available beta slots have been filled.

Microsoft plans to continue the testing throughout the year, with plans to offer free, ad-supported Windows Live services and more comprehensive services under a subscription basis.

Office Live includes a free domain name, a Web site and company e-mail. Windows Live, meanwhile, is designed to offer a centralized personal service for e-mail, blogging, instant messaging, search and security.