Facing pressure from Google and local-language rivals such as Baidu, Microsoft is seeking to distinguish itself again in China's competitive search market by expanding and refining its offerings.

Search capability was a major component of Microsoft's Research Asia Innovation Day in Beijing today, which sought to showcase the work of one of the software giant's three worldwide research facilities.

Earlier this week, data from web measuring firm Nielsen NetRatings saw Google and Yahoo's share of the worldwide search market increase, while Microsoft's MSN fell in share from 14 to 11 percent overall.

The company is in the process of expanding the web service components of various capabilities, such as search functions in Windows Live.

"I think it's too narrow to think of search as a market. I think of search as a capability," said Craig Mundie, chief technical officer for advanced strategies and policy at Microsoft. Search is an "important component of the basic computing experience", he said.

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