Life without Google Day 2: Windows Live Search a viable contender

Life without Google Day 2: Windows Live Search a viable contender

Summary: Microsoft's search efforts--Windows Live Search--have been much maligned, but actual search experience may differ from perception.Indeed, the numbers don't lie.

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Microsoft's search efforts--Windows Live Search--have been much maligned, but actual search experience may differ from perception.

Indeed, the numbers don't lie. Microsoft is a distant third behind Google and Yahoo, according to Comscore. In April, Microsoft's search had a market share tally of 10.3 percent, third behind Yahoo's 26.8 percent and Google's 49.7 percent, according to Comscore. Microsoft's search problems have been well documented. In fact, I argued that Microsoft should buy Yahoo just to close the Google gap a little.

Given that backdrop, let's just say I was skeptical about the Windows Live Search experience (gallery at left). I've never spent a lot of time with Microsoft's search as I rarely visit MSN. Simply put, I expected Microsoft's search to be more annoying then Ms. Dewey and not nearly as cute.

But a funny thing happened after a few searches. Windows Live Search grew on me on day two of my life without Google experiment. The interface seemed smooth. The results were good. And once I got over my initial bias Windows Live Search was fine. In fact, I'd use it again.

I was so shocked by this outcome that I took an extra half day to mull it over. My conclusion: Windows Live Search partially benefited from my low expectations. Windows Live Search is the Web's whipping boy and I expected to kick it around too. Ask had the opposite problem: I tested Ask following a day of reading generally positive (even glowing) reviews. In the end, Windows Live Search under promised and over delivered. Ask was the opposite. Keep in mind that none of these search engines promised me anything -- this is a case of perception at play. I'm keeping expectations in mind as I date all of these search engines.

Going into the Ask experiment I had expected the search engine to be the best thing since sliced bread. As for Microsoft I expected moldy bread. Neither Microsoft nor Ask are going to be Google killers, but in select spots both have an edge. Microsoft and Ask are adept at integrating various results on one screen and tying together various services.

The gallery goes into my impression of the Windows Live Search experiment. I'll have to play with Microsoft's search more, but here's what I liked:

  • The interface.
  • The map results.
  • People searches worked well.
  • Feedback is front and center--it's almost as if Microsoft realizes it's in a deep hole.
  • Beta features looked interesting.

And naturally, there were things that struck me as odd.

  • The first visit to Windows Live Search asked me if I wanted to make it the default search. Can I search something first? Microsoft looked desperate. Maybe it should ask that question after three searches or something.
  • Microsoft had me-too features. Innovation doesn't jump out at you.
  • Macros were a nice way to customize Live Search, but struck me as excessively geeky. Is this a Web search or a Word doc? It's so Microsoft.

Overall, Windows Live Search is a viable competitor to Google--even if it doesn't get credit for it. Next stop for me is decidedly retro: AltaVista.

Topics: Google, Microsoft, Windows

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39 comments
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  • No thanks

    Before you pigeon hole me as a MS hater I should point out that I really like Windows XP. Windows XP is my favorite desktop of all time. (Sorry Mac OS X fanboys, I've built my own PCs too long to cough up $2000+ for a nice Macintosh)

    On the corporate side, MS SQL Server is quite nice as is ActiveDirectory for managing large corporate networks.

    (Aside: I like LINUX, Apache et al on the back end for strategic purposes as well, a.k.a., $aving money)

    Nevertheless I don't need to feed MS' ego anymore than I've already done with my wallet. On principle alone, competition is good and given the nature of search, i.e., a web application, there is simply no reason for me to patronize Windows Live Search given how stellar of a job Google does.

    If anything you should go check out Ask.com's new interface, I like it.

    -M
    betelgeuse68
    • ask

      [quote][i]If anything you should go check out Ask.com's new interface, I like it.
      -M[/i][/quote]

      From what I read, he did ;)
      D-Ram
    • Seems like you didn't learn anything from Larry

      you seem to just have preconceived notions. All i can say is I've also given live search a chance, but also using Google, sort of a every other search kind of thing. I am pleasantly surprised the live search is often giving more more accurate results than Google, which seems to be going straight to the highest bidder. I've given up using Google to troubleshoot IE, server 2003, Active Directory etc. issues. I don't know if it's just my search strings, or what, but I keep getting hits on all of microsoft's competitor sites offering REPLACEMENTS to IE etc. rather than hits on the error code that entered as part of my search. I am very disenchanged with google and am planning on going to live search full time.
      xuniL_z
      • It does not really matter if MS search is good. Google is better, and we

        are all used to it. Besides, we all know that MS will make it depend on Windows and screw it up. Why bother?
        DonnieBoy
        • Why bother? That's a good poiint.

          Why bother reading your posts. They are all exactly the same BS and a cesspool of biased hatred that never vary. <br>
          You are right. Why bother. I guess I'll remember that from now on.
          xuniL_z
    • Google stellar? NOT! Yahoo beats it by far.

      Betelgeuse68 claims that Google gives "stellar" results". Not even close! Just as an example, for well over a year, Google was unable to find one of the most active ski clubs in Portland, Oregon. Every other search engine found that web site within the top 10 results. Only Google could not find it.

      And this despite the fact that the webmaster did all he could to dance to Google's tune, to adjust the web site to whatever Google and other Google promoters and "experts" suggested. Only Google keeps changing their search criteria with wildly unpredictable results. Meanwhile other search engines, such as Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, AlltheWeb, etc. are simply and quietly doing what they are supposed to do: FIND STUFF (without the need for any special tweaking from the webmasters).

      If Yahoo can find a web site without any special tweaking, why can't Google do the same?

      Maybe some webmasters love Google because Google keeps them busy all the time. Personally, I would rather do some real work than waste my time playing Google's game. I am tired of Google's ever changing whims. So, I have been ignoring Google for the past year. Yahoo and MSN give me better results anyway. So, who needs Google?
      Emilio_z
      • I use Yahoo for Travel, and if I am on the site, somtimes I try the search,

        but I always end up back at Google.

        Google gives the best search results, bar none.
        DonnieBoy
  • default search....

    [quote][i]The first visit to Windows Live Search asked me if I wanted to make it the default search. Can I search something first? Microsoft looked desperate. Maybe it should ask that question after three searches or something.[/i][/quote]
    I find that Google, Yahoo and etc... also do this.
    D-Ram
  • The map results

    I too like the map results. I also like the "birds eye view" feature, more so than Google's aerial view and even their new street level view.
    ITguy5678
  • What seems a bit unfair to me

    Is that Google can sell it's own desktop in a huge box in the upper right of it's "desktop", considering it's ownership of web searches. Seems Google tried to take MS to court over the fact they had msn first as a choice of default search....but I don't see Google advertising any microsoft products on it's desktop. And make no mistake...it's their desktop. Now they are pushing their Googlized version of IE7. User beware is all i can say....I think Google desktop is a risky proposition, at least at work, depending on your business and sensitivity of your data. Some of your data will be moved to and saved on Google server, just using Google desktop. <br>
    I won't go near it.
    xuniL_z
    • Google Desktop

      On that subject, don't forget about this:
      http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=253&tag=nl.e622

      while he does say it is "purely theoretical", it still does not look good.

      Never used Google desktop for privacy issues, and it turns out that was the right choice, I think.
      Azriphale
      • thanks, i missed that story..

        I think the real takeaway from that article is that is just one plausible attack. Web based apps are simply too risky at this point. The technology is literally in it's infancy, yet proponents are pushing it gung ho, including one of the best bloggers on this site. <br>
        For now, I'm happy with managing my own security. I don't know anyone I've worked with (medium size healthcare facilities) that is even thinking about web apps as an option. Not even for non-patient related computerization.
        xuniL_z
        • Man guys, give it a break. The proven, know risk is running Windows and

          MS Office. You can talk about how web apps may or may not be secure, but so far have been pretty damn safe. Just make sure you access them from something besides IE. Better yet, run Mac or Linux on the client side if you are worried about security. I get a kick out of people scared to death of web apps, but you find out they use Windows, MS Office, and IE. Pretty funny.
          DonnieBoy
          • Give it a break, DB. I get a kick out of

            how scared you get everytime Google gets bad press, or Microsoft gets good press.
            :)
            John Zern
    • Re: What seems a bit unfair to me

      [i]I think Google desktop is a risky proposition, at least at work, depending on your business and sensitivity of your data. Some of your data will be moved to and saved on Google server, just using Google desktop.
      I won't go near it. [/i]

      I won't even go near Google Toolbar. Google desktop at work should be punishable by termination.


      :)
      none none
      • What should be punishable by termination is using IE or Outlook. Those are

        the two biggest known security problems on the planet, apart from Windows itself. The risk of Google Toolbar is pretty minor in comparison.
        DonnieBoy
        • Google is closed and secretive

          so do you really have ANY idea how safe their products are? What happens to your info once it makes it onto Google's servers?

          As I thought: you can't answer that with any degree of certainty.

          Defend Google till your blue in the face, that's great. Understand that the rest of the world is taking notice of these concearns.
          John Zern
    • Google does NOT have a monopoly, 50% is not even close to 90%.

      And, the risky proposition is running a Windows box with MS Office connected to the internet. I won't go near it.
      DonnieBoy
      • Likewise Windows does NOT have a monopoly.

        A monopoly, by definition, requires 100% of the market.
        <br>
        So there donnie boy.
        xuniL_z
  • I tried live search

    a couple of weeks back and i could not find anything.

    I am an excellent internet search user and can find 99% of everything I need. If i cannot find it i am able to find a link to find something else which will like to the information i need to find what i need to find.

    I struggle with MSN, i find it, well to be honest, SHIT.

    If google doesn't have it and yahoo doesn't have it, it doesn't exist on the net. :D

    I do always use more than one search engine, i even use dogpile.com sometimes!
    usrhlp