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MSN takes local apps for test drive

On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled a public U.S. trial of its Windows Live Expo, a free classified service that lets people do some online networking while they shop or sell goods. People go to the mall in packs, why not socialize on the Web, too?

The new service integrates MSN Messenger so that buyers and sellers can exchange private messages. It also creates private email boxes that help prevent spam while keeping people's identity private.

The company also started showing off its local "street-side" service, which is still in beta. The local search and mapping service lets people look at photos of businesses from many points of view, including aerial views and now street side. The service takes a page from's A9 local listings, which debuted in late 2004.