March 7, 2006 4:55 PM PST

Microsoft upgrades search

Microsoft is set to launch on Wednesday the beta version of its new Windows Live Search page, which uses the same behind-the-scenes technology as MSN Search but will eventually become the company's sole search offering.

"In the future there will be one search experience--when we come out of beta (with Windows Live Search), which won't be years" from now, said Adam Sohn, director of MSN global sales, marketing and public relations. Sohn was making a reference to Google, whose products often stay in beta for years.

Microsoft merged MSN with Windows last summer and announced plans in November to offer Web-based services under the Windows Live name. Windows Live will combine e-mail, blogging, instant messaging and other services. MSN, meanwhile, will focus on content and media, Sohn said.

"This is the second major chapter in our overall effort to drive innovation in search," Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of MSN information services, said in an interview Monday. "The first two-and-a-half years were about catching up and building the basic services...closing the gap with the current players" with regard to relevancy of search results.

Mehdi said Microsoft has closed the gap with Yahoo and is "within a couple of points of Google."

Windows Live Search features new capabilities for image search, news search, RSS feeds, mail, local search and shopping. The beta search product also offers a search preview, a search slider bar that lets users specify the number and size of results on the page, and smart scroll, which lets users view all search results without moving from page to page.

Microsoft also unveiled an updated version of its site and a beta version of Windows Live Toolbar.

The new Windows Live Toolbar lets users search from any Web page using Windows Live Search. It incorporates technology, acquired during the purchase of OnFolio, that allows people to save information onto their computers and find information through an integrated RSS aggregator and reader.

Microsoft's service also will allow users to add persistent search results to their home page, subscribe to RSS feeds directly from search results and use new gadgets such as clock, notepad, stock quotes and weather.

The Windows Live Search will be accessible across all the upcoming Windows Live services, such as Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail.

MSN Search has about 11 percent of the U.S. search market, behind Yahoo with 22 percent and Google with 48 percent, according Nielsen/NetRatings.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Windows Live Search, Microsoft Windows Live, MSN Search, MSN, image search


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To beta or not to beta.
I have to laugh when M$ pokes fun at Google for the latter's habit of keeping its services in beta for months or years. Not for Microsoft the messy business of debugging its products based on the feedback of relatively small numbers of tech savvy users before releasing them on the wider world. No no no. Much better to get the mass market to pay for the privilege of beta testing its stuff.

And there's silly Google being honest with its users and telling them that the service isn't yet production ready until, and here's the tough part, it actually is production ready.

Another funny thing is that I have far fewer problems using Google's beta software than I do with any given piece of M$ code.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
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It took me 15 seconds to find the first bug...typical of MS products...
After I do a search I usually middle-click multiple results, which in Firefox opens tabs for each one. I can then flip through them, closing as I go and end up back at my search results without having to use a Back button between looking at each result. Middle click does nothing on results, no new tab or anything. My guess is MS intentionally will keep Firefox and other standards based, safe to use browsers from working properly. I won't even touch on the lack of results compared to the same search with Google or Yahoo. MS makes 1/2 baked apps, use the MS search and you get 1/2 baked results. Anyone surprised by that?
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
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Very Good Maps
Good detail almost everywhere. Much better photos than <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

I didn't think that was possible. Microsoft just impressed me. Google Earth combined with the MS data would really be sweet.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
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Doesn't work on my Mac though.
That's a bummer. Doesn't like Safari, Mozilla, or IE. Just says loading and sits there. Even faking the user agent doesn't help.

Hope they fix that.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
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Wow, cool search
Search with in search, map point integration are cool
Posted by johncln (1 comment )
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Downplaying This?
I'm surprised this new site is not getting more press. It seems like a direct (and rather impressive) assault on Google, and yet this story is hiding in the corner of with a lame little title of "Microsoft Upgrades Search".

And so there are only six replies to this story so far.

I don't get it. This seems like it should be big news.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
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