Redmond-based Microsoft Corp. has announced that it will be offering an online service for searching books and other writings, and also said that it will try to avoid the legal hassles currently being experienced by rival Google Inc..

Initially, Microsoft will work with the Open Content Alliance. This organisation also includes Yahoo Inc. as one of its members. Microsoft may charge users for the service to avoid the aforementioned legal issues.

The general manager of Microsoft's MSN online unit, Danielle Tiedt, said: "I think about the [initial] 150,000 books as a test." A beta version of the service will be launched next year. The company also plans to work with publishers and authors.

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