Several companies monitoring internet traffic have claimed that Microsoft's search engine is losing ground to those from Google and others. The reason is thought to be the prolonged experimentation with its new Live Search.

Search is one of the areas where software giant Microsoft is investing large amounts of money to become the market leader. But it seems the investment is backfiring against the company.

According to TechWhack , internet monitoring companies ComScore Networks , HitWise , and Nielsen/NetRatings have all stated that Microsoft has lost shares of the internet search market to its rival Google during the past 12 months.

Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for HitWise said it was "very possible" that Google's improved performance "could be at the expense of Microsoft".

The three web monitoring companies believe that MSN Search being replaced by Live Search has been a major factor behind people choosing search engines other than Microsoft's.

The new service has changed its interface a number of times, and there has been a lot of experimentation on the website. It is thought that the constant changes have scared users away to other alternatives.

Adam Sohn, a spokesman for Microsoft's Windows Live group, said this was good news: "Over the last nine months, we focused intently on bringing Live Search from beta to final version."

"With our search experience now in the right place for widespread consumer use, we are just beginning the execution of our broad marketing strategy, as well as building strategic partnerships that we expect will expand and grow our user base over time." Anna Lagerkvist