Microsoft Shutters Online-Classifieds Site

Microsoft said it will shut down Windows Live Expo, an online classified-advertising site the software giant created to compete with

A notice on the Windows Live Exposite informs visitors that the service will be discontinued at the end of July. Effective immediately, the site has quit accepting new accounts or listings, it said.

"All current listings will remain on until they expire," the notice said. "We thank you for your patronage and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Expo, launched just two years ago, was one of several lesser-known Windows Live services that Microsoft has shuttered recently. In late May, Microsoft said it would shut off its Windows Live Search Books service. It was introduced in February 2006 as a classified listings service where members could buy and sell merchandise, discover local events, find a new job or place to live. Products on Expo were listed by postal code, giving users the option to search for items within a 25-mile radius of their location.

Like other Windows Live services, Expo was designed to showcase the utility of combining different Microsoft Internet services. To ensure trust, the classifieds service allowed customers to limit listings to known associates listed within their Microsoft e-mail or instant messaging contact lists.

San Francisco-based Craigslist attracts an overwhelming percentage of visitors to U.S. online classified sites. It offers local classifieds in 500 cities and more than 50 countries. Online auctioneer eBay operates a rival classifieds site it calls Kijiji.

Microsoft pursued a mega-merger with Yahoo earlier this year to bolster the company's position relative to Internet services market leader Google. A month ago, Microsoft withdrew its unsolicited takeover offer after Yahoo sought a higher price. The companies continue to talk about alternate deals that fall short of an outright merger, Yahoo executives said this week.