What’s New at Microsoft Live Search

Today’s post was going to be about finding networking events to attend, however I got a call late Tuesday asking if I’d like to speak to Microsoft’s Search team about some new features they are rolling out into UK Live Search, so I thought it would be more timely to post about that. On the networking side of things I only got the call due to somebody I spoke to at a launch party a few weeks ago 🙂 .

The conference call was meant to last 20 minutes but ending up stretching to 40 and I still only got chance to ask a couple of questions. One thing I found with all of the search team members they were exceedingly enthusiastic and committed to the product, Microsoft have been developing their search technologies for 4 years now and feel they are making inwards into the SE market.

There are various new features rolling, some are already available whilst others will be rolled out over the coming weeks

Image & Video Search
The size of the image index has been increased and to make it easy to navigate they have added “infinite scroll” which uses scripting to automatically show more images when you scroll down the page, removing the need for a next page click. There is also a scratch pad where you can save individual images to and a larger image preview when hovering the mouse. There is also a cool preview with video search where it automatically plays 30 seconds of relevent video when you again hover the mouse. Relevet video is algorithmycally calculated, if it’s a sports video it will show the part where the crowd is loudest, applause etc.

Mapping
Microsoft has now added their Virtual Earth technology into Multi Map (their recent acquisition). This now gives Microsoft 45% market share of mapping searches in the UK.

Specialist Content Areas
Mariah Carey
This is a pretty cool idea, instead of having standard results pages they have developed a system called xRank to show relevent info and rankings depending on what you are searching for. It only works with celebrity searches at the moment and provides a ranking history based on how many times they’ve been mentioned in the media and searched for. Mariah Carey is currently #1.

Mobile
Time ran out before we could talk about this, but I’ve played with Mobile Live and it looks pretty cool. It’s a download for your mobile phone but gives you access to maps and useful info like directions to the nearest pub or pizza shop. If your phone has a built in GPS it can also access this to find your current location and provide directions etc.

Cleaner Interface
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody get so excited about 4 pixels but by spacing the results more they beleive they given it a cleaner look, so it’s not just us normal folk that spend time tweaking by a pixel or two. They’ve also added a feature similar to Google site links (this was reported a while ago on BlogStorm (though I couldn’t find it when searching now)). Search with abbreviations and misspellings (the average UK searcher spells like a 7 year old according to MS research).

Conclusion
All in all it was an interesting conversation but I never got much of a chance to ask questions as time was too short. A lot of the technology is cool but still seems to be playing catch up with the big G, it’s taken Microsoft 4 years to get this far, I wonder how many years behind Google they currently are.

I’ve got to give a thanks to Scott and Patrick for some great questions I would of liked to have answered if time allowed, maybe next time.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.

Comments

  1. The problem with Microsoft is that they just don’t innovate the way Google does. If you’re always playing catch up, how are you ever going to pass anyone? Despite these positive steps, Google ‘s still the king of search, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

    – Dave

  2. Interesting. Like you, however, I wish they would catch up with Google – not only from the search perspective but from the ad perspective also (I realise its extremely unfashionable to admit to this, but I have a great great of respect for MS).

    • I have a lot of respect for Microsoft too. They’re a great company, but they’re in tough against Google. It just seems that Google has a better sense of itself and what it’s doing than Microsoft in the internet age. When Microsoft was just starting out, Bill Gates had a vision of a computer sitting on every desk running Microsoft Software. It was that vision that propelled them to the success they had. They just don’t seem to have that same kind of vision now when it comes to the internet.

      – Dave

  3. Truthfully speaking I don’t believe they’re behind Google at all in implementation of technology and UI. They may in fact be ahead. However, in relevance and index quality they are behind, and that’s why they will stay behind in market share as well

  4. Microsoft will never catch Google.

    Google is in the same position that Microsoft is for operating systems.

    If you want to search for something only you turn to Google. If you want to run a computer you need Microsoft. (Yah yah… there are Macs but how much market share do they have?)

    That’s my prediction.

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