Microsoft Web search chief leaves post

The executive who led Microsoft's Web search division is leaving his post with the software maker to start his own business, sources from Microsoft, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

Christopher Payne is the corporate VP in charge of Windows Live Search, formerly MSN Search, an effort the company launched after its search partner Inktomi was acquired by Web portal business Yahoo in 2003, the Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report also said Payne did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment or return a call to his home in Seattle.

In spite of its efforts to build buzz around the Live brand, Microsoft's sites handle far fewer queries than the industry leader, Google, and the No. 2 player, Yahoo, the report said.

During a conference call following Microsoft's second-quarter earnings, Microsoft cut expectations for revenue growth in its online services business, which includes Live Search and other Web properties, the report said. The company now forecasts revenue growth from 3% to 8%, down from a more optimistic view issued after first-quarter earnings for 7% to 11% growth, it added.