Life without Google: Altavista a depressing dead end

Life without Google: Altavista a depressing dead end

Summary: Using AltaVista was like going into a house that has been closed down for the last five years. There was mold, cobwebs and overall the whole experience was depressing when you ponder what might have been.

TOPICS: Google

Using AltaVista was like going into a house that has been closed down for the last five years. There was mold, cobwebs and overall the whole experience was depressing when you ponder what might have been.

Simply put, I made a wrong turn, which may be a common thing in my life without Google experiments.

To be honest Altavista was tossed into my relic bin. I remember the company tried to go public numerous times and tried to be a portal. It could have been Google. Now it's a memory. Altavista had the misfortune of being owned by two companies--CMGI and Digital Equipment (later Compaq, which later was absorbed into HP) that just couldn't give it the love it deserved as one of the Web's first search engines.

After a search or two, I had to refresh my memory a bit. Altavista is owned by Overture Services, which is now a part of Yahoo. I gravitated to the press room just to see if there was anything new with Altavista. Apparently not. The latest announcement was in August 2003. Overture bought the Altavista business in April 2003 and Yahoo bought Overture in July 2003. Overture picked Altavista up for $140 million.

I decided to take Altavista for a spin based on a talkback in one of my previous posts, but there's nothing there. In a nutshell, Altavista is Yahoo search with a different wrapper. All of the menu items--toolbar, answers, director, shopping etc.--are redirected to Yahoo.

Now there may be a few of you being nostalgic, but it's time to move on.

Topic: Google

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  • Original Article on CenterNetworks

    Hi - nice series - you might be interested in checking out the wildly popular article on CenterNetworks about Life without Google. I am sure you viewed it as part of your research - would have been nice for a link! Oh well... anyway, here is the link:
    • Actually didn't see this before thanks

      for pointing out the link. Cheers.
      Larry Dignan
  • Don't forget the Alpha tie-in

    Another interesting part of this story was that DEC tied Altavista to the use of Alpha-based computers. This limited the potential of this technology to only those who had already adopted Alpha.
  • You are moving too much with the wind....

    ... and the wind may blow to Google a lot these days but Altavista has from a user's
    perspective still a lot to offer, like sometimes a more complete result when searching
    for something.

    And besides, is it an attitude unique for us interested in digital technology that
    everything have to be #1 in respective market to be successful, i.e. profitable? Of
    course that's not true.
  • Really the same?

    If Altavista was a yahoo in a diffrent wrapper you'd expect identical search results.

    As luck would have it I needed into about function "FtpGetFileSize" to fix a legacy app. The routine is part of wininet.dll.

    I pasted FtpGetFileSize into both seach engines and did not get identical results at all.

    I personally use google the most, but altavista is always my send choice. I like the lack of so-called web 2.0 crap and the spartan graphics that load quickly on my Windows Mobile pda.

    What I really loved about Altavista was that about 5 years ago they would still put a date in the search listings so that you could see how long ago it was that the search engine had indexed the site. It was very cool feature to let you visually pick out newer listings.

    In any event, google is not the end-all. It is a sloppy search engine just like all the others. Google simply provides fancy non-search features that people seem to like at the moment.
    • There may be

      Some legacy features laying around Altavista that are neat. However, all the pointers to yahoo were a big turn off. I've seen numerous references to the Yahoo search switchover.

      I cut my losses early on Altavista based on a few things:

      1. All the pointers to Yahoo
      2. There are other search engines that may be more interesting.
      3. I'm evaluating Yahoo anyway at some point in the future.

      I'll follow up with Yahoo to see if Altavista results are using a different technique/engine.
      Larry Dignan
  • 300 others to try ...
  • Yeah it's kind of sad

    AltaVista WAS the Google of the late 90's when it came to pure search and with a little proper TLC could've stepped into the spotlight which Google hit at just the right time. Google made a lot of its own luck (especially since then), but timing is everything.

    AltaVista is often used by Yahoo as sort of testing ground for tweaks to their search algorithm. So it's not uncommon to see some differences between the two results.

    That being said, I'm a big fan of Yahoo's search results and think they're comparable to (sometimes better than) Google's. I REALLY wish Yahoo would give AltaVista a thorough redesign/makeover and see if it's old school appeal and a nice design gets any traction. Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to try.