Microsoft's Live Labs -- its Research and MSN mash-up -- fielded a new test project on November 18 known as "Pivot."
Pivot (not to be confused with Microsoft's recently renamed PowerPivot) is meant to combine search, browsing and recommendations to create a more unified Web experience, according to a description on the Live Labs Web site.
Another way the team is describing the goal of the Pivot project is to enable users to view the Web as a "web" rather than a series of isolated pages. Pivot is to allow users to visualize hidden patterns so they can "discover new insights while interacting with thousands of things at once," according to the Web site.
Microsoft is making a limited technical preview of Pivot available to a set of invited testers. The team is counting on developers to extend the "Collections" that are central to the Pivot technology. Collections, as the Pivot team explains on the Web site, are combinations of large groups of similar items on the Web that allow users to "begin viewing the relationships between individual pieces of information in a new way."
Collection files are CXML and Deep Zoom-formatted (DZC) images. According to the site, "depending on whether the user browses web pages or collections, the Pivot client will either use the embedded IE rendering engine (Trident) or the collection browser to display the files."
The download site for Live Labs' Pivot is here. Pivot "runs best" on a Windows 7 PC with Aero Glass enabled and requires .Net 3.5 Service Pack 1 and Internet Explorer 8, but it also runs on Windows Vista. It is available in English only for now.
The fine print: "Intel integrated chipsets cannot run this application and you may see a failure during install or once you are using Pivot. Other graphics cards that are not new or do not have dedicated VRAM may show unpredictable behavior including crashes, visual artifacts, or failures in installation. We may not be able to do much about these failures if you hit them with this build, but tell us about what you are seeing and we can prioritize improving this area for the future."
Update: One of my tipsters said Pivot is the project that was formerly codenamed "Seahorse." I'll ask Microsoft and see if they'll confirm or deny. Sounds like I have some very good sources, as one of my Talkback posters (Live Labs chief Gary Flake) says himself.