Microsoft lanches Academic search beta

New service competes with Google Scholar to provide access to abstracts of scholarly publications.

Those exclusive academic journals that cost a fortune to subscibe to in print form, just got a little more accessible now that Microsoft has released a beta-version of Academic, a search tool for scholars, reports Tech News World.

Usually hesitant to release a product early, Microsoft made the unusual move to release a beta version of Windows Live Academic Search service, a joint effort between industry association CrossRef and other publishers. The search tool will provide access to academic journals in three disciplines: computer science, electrical engineering and physics. The unique feature of the search engine allows users to move their mouse over the results to view the abstracts. Users can sort results by journal, conference, author and date.

Microsoft's Live Academic Search comes some two years after Google introduced Scholar, another academic search engine, two years ago. Google currently dominates the market.

"This is still very much an early market. Scholar is not that old and Microsoft is going to update its beta within the next three or four months, probably with new content as well. Also, Google Scholar is likely to be updated around that time," says Matt Booth, vice president of interactive local media at the Kelsey Group

Clearly Microsoft wants to have a product to compete with Google, and there is probably room out there for more than one company to peddle its product.

"I don't think we will be in a situation where one company owns the entire search market," Booth said. "There is still much more content to be indexed - I think Google's stance is that they have only indexed one percent of possible content."

Academic boasts rich meta data in its search result. Mousing over a result provides abstract information in a sidebar including authors, publication, date, publisher and DOI reference. Google Scholar provides links to articles that reference the item and a link to British Library Direct, a fee-based service.

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