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Microsoft promises new search 'instant answers'

Live Search cuts to the chase with answers to various questions, not just links to other sites with the answers. Microsoft is expanding this 'instant answer' feature.

Microsoft's Live Search engine can provide what the company calls "instant answers" to various questions, and the company said on Wednesday it plans to expand the feature in the next month.

Current instant answers show up for some queries for encyclopedia facts, traffic, and horoscopes, according to a blog post from Live Search Product Manager Theo Vachovsky. He then offered a teaser for coming attractions: "Check this blog in a month to find out about other cool new instant answers on Live Search."

Microsoft declined to share details, but did confirm that "new instant answers features will be releasing in the next month."

Instant answers are designed to make the search engine more useful. "There are really just two types of searches: "Browse and seek" (and) "tell me now," Vachovsky said in the blog post. Instant answers are directed at the latter variety, such as "finding out how tall Mount Kilimanjaro is or who the 31st president of the U.S. was," he said.

Google and Yahoo often provide such information in their search results, too.