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Sidewalk strategy shifts

Microsoft's online guide will fold its international city guides into the Microsoft Network and halt work on a planned Montreal site.

Less than two months after its launch, Microsoft's (MSFT) Sidewalk is shifting its strategy, the company said.

The company has decided to "centralize local content development for international markets within the content development efforts for Microsoft Network" and will close a planned site in Montreal, a spokeswoman said. She said between five and ten workers will lose their jobs, but may be reassigned.

The company's plans to roll out standalone Sidewalk Web sites for U.S. cities will be unaffected. She couldn't immediately offer a rationale for what she dubbed a "strategic business decision." Also, Sidewalk for Sydney, Australia, will roll out by year's end.

Some Canadian Netizens are not impressed. "Apparently the lack of traffic is giving Bill Gates second thoughts about being a content provider on the Net," said a posting on AfterHour, which first reported the news about the Montreal site.

Microsoft said it was "very pleased" with the traffic at its Seattle city guide but declined to provide specifics.

This week the company launched another city directory in New York.

Competition in the city search directory business is heating up; Yahoo, CitySearch, and Digital City all provide local city guides.

Also today, the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times launched Just Go, an entertainment guide for the San Francisco Bay area. It lists categories for dining, movies, and music. Today's front page showed a review of the new Steven Spielberg movie Lost World.