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Sidewalks out in Denver, Houston

Microsoft launches its sixth and seventh Sidewalk cities in Houston and Denver, just a week after launching a site in San Francisco.

    Microsoft (MSFT) launched its sixth and seventh Sidewalk cities today in Houston and Denver, just a week after launching a site in San Francisco.

    Although two months passed between the launch of the San Francisco and the previous Twin Cities site, rollouts are now coming at a faster clip because Microsoft is able to leverage its technology--and mistakes--from previous city efforts, according to Gayle Troberman, consumer marketing manager for Sidewalk.

    "It's a learning process," she said. "This is a new business. With each city, we learned a ton that's benefited the next city."

    All the players competing in the localized content space--and there are about a half-dozen serious contenders--have been rolling out their sites one at a time. Microsoft is competing with the likes of Yahoo, AOL's Digital City, CitySearch, and metro daily newspapers with Web sites, among others.

    Like Microsoft, other companies have big names that do not always connote localized content. Whether it's intentional or not, it makes sense for them to have individual openings catering to the local communities their sites are trying to serve.

    The software giant plans to introduce Sidewalk next in Sydney, Australia, as early as next month, according to the company. It will also launch Washington, D.C., and San Diego sites by the end of the year; Chicago will follow next year.

    Microsoft has not announced other cities and has closely guarded information about Sidewalk from the outset.