Microsoft Rolling Out New Search Engine

Microsoft is introducing a new search engine for local businesses to attract more Internet advertising. Windows Live Local will have aerial photos of U.S. cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Las Vegas, with details such as building fronts, Microsoft said in a statement. The service will provide step-by-step driving directions with satellite images.

The new features are part of Windows Live, a collection of Web sites including Internet search, e-mail and instant messaging that Microsoft unveiled in November.

News Corp. Touts Ad Software

News Corp. is developing software to help it become the Internet's leading seller of display advertising.

The Rupert Murdoch-controlled company plans to boost sales using a "treasure trove" of information on millions of teens and young adults gleaned from Web sites such as, which has 41 million registered users.


Virgin Mobile Rejects Takeover Offer

Virgin Mobile Holdings, the mobile phone business of Richard Branson, rejected a $1.45 billion takeover offer from NTL as too low. The approach "materially undervalues" Trowbridge, England-based Virgin Mobile, it said in a statement. NTL said Dec. 5 that it planned to offer $5.60 in cash or 0.09298 of an NTL share for each Virgin Mobile share.

Vodafone Group or France Telecom's Orange may be tempted to make competing bids, Bear Stearns said. NTL, Britain's biggest cable provider, wants to add a cellular offering to its Internet, television and fixed-line phone packages.


Earls Loses Appeal in Fraud Case

A federal appeals court upheld the fraud conviction of former U.S. Technologies chief executive C. Gregory Earls, left, who is serving more than 10 years in prison for looting a partnership.

Earls, 61, was convicted of securities fraud and 21 other counts after a jury found he abused his post as a trustee of a Washington area charity to lure investors into the partnership. Earls was sentenced to 125 months in prison and ordered to repay $21 million that he stole from investors.


Sirius Says Price Hikes No Problem

Sirius Satellite Radio has no plans to raise prices, but the New York-based company said studies it has done show it can raise its subscription price without alienating consumers. Sirius and its larger competitor, the District's XM Satellite Radio Holdings, both charge $12.95 monthly for service across North America.

To date, satellite-radio customers have not been deterred by price increases as high as 48 percent, as subscriber numbers continue to rise.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.