AltaVista offers "search freshness guarantee"

By the end of this year, AltaVista intends to offer a revamped, updated Internet search site, rolling out more than 25 new services in the coming months to complement several announced today, including multimedia compatibility.

By the end of this year, AltaVista intends to offer a revamped, updated Internet search site, rolling out more than 25 new services in the coming months to complement several announced today, including multimedia compatibility.

Borrowing a pledge shoppers have previously been most likely to find in the produce aisle at the grocery store, AltaVista starting today said it now offers something called a "search freshness guarantee" designed to keep search indexes from growing stale. The company will update search indexes at least every 28 days, and possibly more often.

Also available now, http://www.altavista.com is formatted for wide monitor screens and has a global navigation bar to make it easier to access the AltaVista Network, the company said in a written statement today. The company also announced that a multimedia search feature started earlier this year has been built into the core search engine.

The feature lets users search for image, audio and video content. Formats included in AltaVista's multimedia index include MP3, RealAudio, RealVideo and QuickTime, among others. Users who do a keyword search of, say, "MP3" will now find that the search results come back with both Internet music sources and MP3 players and related merchandise found at the company's http://www.shopping.com Web site. Searches of other keywords will also result in links to merchandise.

That's not the only change at shopping.com. AltaVista unveiled a new format it calls "the Ultrastore" with upgraded superstore listings and the ability for users to personalize the product information page. AltaVista also is using the shopping site to enter the hot online auction business. Its "Ultimate Brand Auctions" function will offer name-brand products in all seven superstores with bids starting as low as US$1.

Jumping into another hot Web area, the company said it has entered partnerships to provide 40 Web sites giving users access to local information. The "portal" sites are part of the Palo Alto, California-based company's Zip2 Division. The local sites listed at the zip2.com Web page are links to Internet locations maintained by news media companies.

As of this morning, the AltaVista site offered links to 13 such Web locations, including local sites with information on entertainment, dining and sites to see set up by the Boston Globe, The Gainesville Sun and Orlando Sentinel, both in central Florida, the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times and the Amarillo Daily News in Texas, among others.

For users who can't bear to be without the latest stock quotes, sports scores, weather reports or news headlines, the company also will offer a "MicroPortal" allowing access to such personalized information. Available by the end of July, the service will work via a "micro" Internet browser that can be kept open as a separate PC desktop window no matter what Internet location the user is browsing or which software applications are open.

Users can sign up in advance for that service at http://www.microav.com. A downloadable browser will be provided as part of the service. As an added incentive, AltaVista will be giving away $5 million in shopping.com electronic cash certificates during the first year of the MicroPortal.

AltaVista, in Palo Alto, can be reached at +1-650-617-3400 or at http://www.altavista.com.

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