Microsoft is to buy Multimap for £25 million as it looks to compete more effectively with Google, which operates the leading online mapping service.
Multimap was used exclusively by many people in the early 2000s, but lost ground to Google Maps, which offered a smarter browser without the continual need to refresh the page.
There are fewer ads and a generally better user experience on Multimap now, though, and with further improvements Microsoft is likely to claw back some more market share from Google.
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, Multimap enjoyed more than four million unique users in November 2007, placing it second behind Google Maps, while Microsoft's Live Search Maps languished in fifth place with only 868,000.
Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski told the Times: "The figures show how Microsoft needs to change its game. The acquisition looks like a smart, cost-effective move."
Delivering Internet Advertising depending on a user's geographical location is likely to be crucial in the future, and commentators have asserted that Microsoft could not have afforded not to develop a major mapping service if it is to effectively compete against Google.
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