Microsoft beefs up video programming on MSN

Worried that Google is staking out precious new Internet ground with search and advertising services, Microsoft is striking back with an investment of about $1.6 billion next year in MSN and new Web-related business ventures.

One of those is MSN Originals, a new video programming initiative for the MSN Web site. Originals, the work of Microsoft-financed collaborations with TV content creators, will seek to expand original Web-only video programming on MSN.

In an early partnership, Microsoft will team with Reveille, producer of NBC's "The Office" and "The Biggest Loser," and Be Jane, a specialist in home improvement content on the Web. Both companies will produce new content specifically for the Microsoft site.

Word of the video initiative came at the annual MSN Strategic Account Summit, an annual event in Redmond, WA, at which Microsoft pitches ideas to its advertisers and investors. Originals is one of several Web improvements Microsoft said it would deploy in coming months.

Microsoft is investing in advertising and search technology, and is building computer centers to manage the services it offers in a bid to catch Google, which dominates the search market, the New York Times reported. The software giant, the newspaper said, is having difficulty matching Google's rapid product development and customer appeal.

Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, admitting that Google had grabbed the lead in search and net advertising, said his company would “keep them honest” by increasing spending on new Internet-related businesses. Gates conceded Microsoft had made mistakes, including picking the wrong people to lead certain efforts.

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