*NEWS*MICROSOFT:SEARCHING 4 YOUR FAV.SITE

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*NEWS*MICROSOFT:SEARCHING 4 YOUR FAV.SITE

 user 2006-03-08 at 10:57:00 am Views: 56
  • #14738

    Microsoft Is Searching For Your Favorite Sites        
    (March
    06) – In the latest salvo aimed at narrowing Google’s lead in Web
    search, Redmond will let users customize the way they seek information
    online
    When Neil Holloway, the president of Microsoft’s Europe,
    Middle East and Africa operations, blurted out March 1 that his
    company’s search technology would be more relevant in the U.S. than
    Google’s within six months, executives in the company’s MSN unit
    cringed. For years, Microsoft has added features and improved
    technology in its Web search engine, only to see Google’s lead expand.
    “I
    think I was more surprised than you” at the comments, says Christopher
    Payne, vice-president of Windows Live Search, the area of Microsoft
    that focuses on Web search. “That is not our philosophy.” Internally,
    executives have become wary of over-promising results against Google’s
    search juggernaut.
    This Year’s Model. That hasn’t stopped Microsoft
    from targeting the market, mind you. On March 8, Microsoft will unveil
    a new collection of search features, many of them not offered by
    Google. They include the ability to customize searches, so users can
    comb through a selected group of sites over and over. Microsoft
    improved the way users can preview data, providing tools to increase or
    decrease how much information is shown on the results page. And search
    results continuously load, so users don’t have to click on “next” to
    see more results.
    But Payne isn’t saying the new features will help
    displace Google anytime soon. Microsoft began using its own technology
    to help answer search queries in Feb., 2005, after previously licensing
    Yahoo’s capability.
    Since then, though, Google’s lead has widened.
    In January, Google accounted for 41.4% of all U.S. searches, compared
    with 35.1% a year earlier, according to comScore Networks, which tracks
    the search-engine market. In the same period, searches using
    Microsoft’s MSN sites accounted for 13.7% of all U.S. searches, from
    16% a year earlier. “Obviously, I’d like that number to be better,”
    Payne says. “We need to do more to differentiate.
    Big Macro.
    Microsoft plans to do just that with customization. The company hopes
    the test software it’s rolling out now will be up on its MSN.com site
    by summer. Here’s how it works: Web surfers can create “search macros,”
    a feature that lets users save specific sites to search over and over.
    So
    softball players, for example, can collect a list of their favorite
    online stores and search a specific brand of bats on one day and gloves
    on another to find the best deals. News junkies can compile only their
    favorite Web sites to find out what those publications have to say
    about President Bush’s trip to Pakistan or the Enron trial.
    And
    folks can share their macros too. Someone who loves to cook can collect
    the best recipe sites and then post the macro so others can use it to
    unearth the best concoction for chateaubriand.
    Not So Fast.
    Microsoft has also made it easier to pick through the results of its
    Web search. Users searching for images, for example, can hover over
    pictures to blow them up for a better view. And the company is
    incorporating technology from its recent purchase of Onfolio that
    stashes pieces of Web pages to view later, so users can keep a
    collection of data on specific topics of interest.
    For all
    Microsoft’s technological leaps, Google will be difficult to knock off
    its perch. Payne is betting that Microsoft’s advances will give it
    offerings that Google can’t match. “I’m hoping our technological lead
    will translate into market share,” Payne says. Holloway should still
    take note: It may take more than six months.