While several research groups report that Microsoft’s share of search queries has slipped since it switched its search technology from Yahoo’s to its own invention in February, the software company claims to be gaining ground. The Wall Street Journal reports on the disconnect, and points out that the competition for search queries is the single greatest challenge in Microsoft’s future. Toward that end, the Journal reports, Microsoft planning an ambitious marketing campaign to bolster the MSN brand against Google, which commands the leading share of search queries despite buying almost no advertising. The story also repors that in another challenge to Google, next month in the U.S. Microsoft plans to open a test version of an automated system that will sell search advertising directly. Currently, most of the search ads on Microsoft sites are sold by Yahoo. Read more.