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March 8, 2006

Microsoft Releases New Live Search Beta

Microsoft has debuted its new search service at live.com.  You can access a version of it at http://www.live.com, or get a more severe looking page at http://search.live.com.  The latter URL offers essentially a blank page with a search box at the top of the screen.  Microsoft highlights the relevancy of the returned search results and the ability to search across a wide variety of sources, including news, images, RSS feeds, email, shopping, blogs, and others.  The product, which is still in beta, also includes an optional toolbar for Windows Live, not unlike the offerings from Yahoo and Google.

The highlight of the site is the look, which is quite different from the other search portals.  There are tabs at the top of a results page that organize the categories of results.  On the top right are sliders that allow for results to display more or less information, and on the side is a slider that works like a fast forward or fast reverse to scroll through results, which are displayed on a single page.

My first search, for the terms Pinky and the Brain (come on, I was tired and couldn't think of anything), brought back results that were interesting and different from the results in Google.  Live search returned 189,433 results with Google well over 1,600,000.  Of course, I'm no likely to wade through almost 200,000 results as I am through a million six.  As to the relevancy factor?  The results in Google were more interesting with more fan sites way at the top, than those on Live Search, but they all showed up eventually there with scrolling.  As a fan of the show I thought Google's results were a bit more interesting, but that company has had years of refining its understanding of my fascination with cartoon mice.

The image search in Search Live was not implemented.  It is in Beta, so no criticisms there.  The news section brought up one story about chicken sales picking up from an Indian newspaper, although the reference was to a police cat named Gurmit Singh Pinky (now an Inspector).  Google led off with a news story from a Georgia newspaper titled "Bush and Cheney:  America's Very Own Pinky and the Brain."  There were others.

Microsoft is obviously challenging Google and Yahoo for search supremacy.  It adds up to a lot of ad dollars.  There's a lot of brand loyalty for Google and Yahoo among their customers making Microsoft's climb distinctly uphill.  There may be a better comparison between search giants when all features are implemented.  Give Microsoft a try.  As the product matures, its substance may meet the company's goals of out-Googling Google. 

What are we going to do today Bill?  Same thing we do every day Steve, try to build a better search engine than Google.

More on this from Playfuls.com, PC Magazine, CNET, and the Microsoft Press Release.

March 8, 2006 | Permalink

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