US software giant Microsoft announced on Wednesday plans to launch an online library of books and other written works. A "beta" version of MSN Book Search will go into service online next year, Microsoft said in a written release.
"We are excited to be working with libraries worldwide to digitise and index information from the worlds printed materials," said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of MSN Search.
"We believe people will benefit from the ability to not just view a page, but to easily act on that data in contextually relevant ways, both online in the search experience and in the applications they are using."
Microsoft will start its library with books in the public domain then expand it to include other works, according to the company, reports the Advertiser.
Last week five major publishers filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that by scanning works from the world's largest libraries, including Oxford and Harvard, into its book search engine, Google Print, the company will infringe massively upon copyright. This follows last month's pledge by the US Authors' Guild, which includes around 8,000 writers, to sue the company.
Google Print will allow searchers to find information about a book, read extracts and buy it. Google has defended itself by saying the move is necessary to achieve its goal of helping people find information more readily.
With Microsoft shouldering in on the action the competition to launch the world's leading digital library has been heightened. However, the company realises that is playing catch-up with Google, saying that it will take a number of years to iron out the complexities.
On Wednesday, a group of German publishers also joined the race to find an alternative to Google Print claiming they will leave control over the use of material in the remit of the publishers, informs PC Pro.