US software kingpin Microsoft has forged a "strategic partnership" to digitise 25 million pages of content from the British Library in London, the Financial Times reported.
Microsoft is to invest 2.5 million dollars in the venture next year as "an initial investment" in a long-term project that will kick off with the initial scanning of 10,000 books.
"This deal will add to the level of content and value of the MSN portal," Microsoft managing director Alistair Baker was quoted as saying.
The Financial Times said the deal would be seen as a bid by Microsoft to make up lost ground in its rivalry with Google, which Thursday unveiled its first digital book collection.
Once some technical hurdles are overcome, digitised books, journals, maps and manuscripts will be available on the British Library website as well as a new MSN Book Search service to be launched in 2006, it reported.