Microsoft is joining the race to steal Google's dominance of the search engine market with new plans to launch search services for news and Web logs. Microsoft has previously announced it is working on its own general Internet search engine.

The new services, called MSN Newsbot and MSN Blogbot, will be available later this year. They come on the back of recent announcements by Yahoo! over an improved search engine, and Lycos releasing a desktop app to search the Web, your browser history and e-mail and files.

"Consumers are saying that they are not finding the results that they want from any search site today. There is a huge room for improvement in the search space," said Karen Redetzki, an MSN product manager.

Microsoft also said it is working on a natural language search engine, dubbed MSN Answerbot. This service will take questions from users and find answers on the Internet, rivalling a similar service from Ask Jeeves. No release has been set, but Redetzki said it is about three years away.

MSN Newsbot will gather news from more than 4,000 sources worldwide. The service, being tested at http://newsbot.msn.com, clearly copies Google's extremely popular tool and will be looking to steal visitors from Google and Yahoo.

The software giant is however claiming a first with MSN Blogbot, a service that will let users search Web logs - blogs. Many consumers even use blogs as a news source, say Microsoft in their wisdom.

MSN Blogbot will aggregate content from hundreds of thousands of Web logs and index that content based on which Web logs are most popular and credible, Redetzki said. The service should go into beta soon and Microsoft plans to introduce MSN Blogbot worldwide, she said.