Five take aways on Microsoft's new Live Search

Five take aways on Microsoft's new Live Search

Summary: It's official: Microsoft has begun rolling out its fall Live Search release. Here are my five take-aways about what's new and what's coming next from Microsoft in the Live Search arena.


Microsoft took the covers off the fall release of its Live Search engine on September 26 at its invitation-only Searchification event for press and analysts.

Five take aways on MicrosoftÂ’s new Live SearchI wasn't there, but like many, I was briefed and embargoed about what's new in the fall update. (The embargoes ended at midnight EST.) I've posted a few screen shots of some of the new Live Search enhancements users can expect to be rolled out as part of the fall release between now and mid-October.

There weren't a whole lot of surprises, as a result of an early post and screen shots from a Microsoft Live Search product manager (subsequently removed) that were grabbed by the LiveSide.Net site. But here are my five take-aways about what's new and what's coming next from Microsoft in the Live Search arena.

1. Microsoft's search index is a lot bigger now. Microsoft officials said the Live Search index has grown four-fold since the first release. (Unfortunately, that number is somewhat meaningless, given that Microsoft won't say how big the original index was.) I have heard from one of my contacts that Live Search is now indexing 20 billion documents. (Update: It looks like Microsoft decided to start spreading the 20 billion figure around.) ButI heard from another source that it's 30 billion. In either case, it's a lot more comparable to Google's index, in terms of coverage and ranking of documents in the index. 2. Live Search's relevancy is noticeably improved. "The important part of this is what shows on page 1 (of search results), and here Microsoft have made the advances in relevance they have been talking about for the past few years," said Chris Overd, one of the principals with LiveSide.Net. "This makes today's beta release of Live Search a much stronger competitor to Yahoo and Google." 3. Microsoft is focusing on improving search in four verticals with this release. These are: shopping, entertainment, health and local/maps. Microsoft estimates 10 percent of consumer search queries are entertainment-related and between three and five percent are health-related. There was a reason (actually a few of them) that Microsoft bought the Medstory health-search engine. Microsoft officials say they will add more verticals to their focus with each subsequent Live Search release.

4. Speaking of subsequent releases, Microsoft is sticking to its plans to do a major spring and a fall release every year of Live Search, with incremental updates coming in between. The spring release, according to Live Search General Manager Derrick Connell, will bring enhancements around "community." (He wouldn't elaborate.) This doesn't sound like tagging/social bookmarking kinds of stuff, as Connell told me that Microsoft decided those features appealed to too small a percentage of the potential user base. Maybe we'll see more peer reviews/recommendations across areas beyond shopping...? Just a guess.... And what about rumors I had heard regarding Live Search allowing users to search their Outlook e-mail? "There's a tie-in there," Connell said, and Microsoft will have more to say about it later. 5. Microsoft is still kicking around the idea of possibly rebranding Live Search. "Live it!" just doesn't have the ring of "Google It!" Connell told me Microsoft "will continue to look at branding." No hints on what Microsoft ultimately might use as the new name, however.

What do you think of what Microsoft's done with search this go-around? Do you think its enhancements will give it any kind of traction against Google and Yahoo?

Topics: Software, CXO, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Health, Microsoft, IT Employment


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Google was my goto search engine, but...

    i now default to live search. Google has reached the point of having relevance distorted too far. <br>
    Right now, live search helps me do my job much more efficiently with much faster times to find relevant information.

    I recommend anyone that hasn't tried it for a while and defaults to Google, give it try. you've got nothing to lose. After a day or two i think you'll find it's as good and better in some areas.
    • Not anytime soon brotha!

      Until they stop their monopoly games !
      • Microsoft has a monopoly

        on search? They even bent over backwards to allow anyone to access their search feature in Vista via SP1. <br>
        Well, i'm not sure what you use for search, but if you somehow think Google is any less of an abuser of position that Microsoft, you are truely fooled.
        • Re: Microsoft has a monopoly

          Well, let's hope MS & Google square off against each other, at least we'll have a duopoly then.

      • Oh God Grow Up...

    • Yes, live search works

      You don't have to type into the address box. Just enter the word to search in IE7 search box then press Enter key and it's done. I hate Google toolbar because it's bundled with some rogue software and installed on my system without my permission.
      • Google toolbar?

        Who said anything about Google toolbar? I've got IE7 open right now and in the upper right hand corner is a searchbox that says "Search Google". I've got the same thing in FireFox. I don't have the Google toolbar installed.
    • Live Search much better for images

      I am a artist and a good image search engine is critical for me. I have always been a big fan of Google but I have to say that Live Search is far superior for image searches. The images look better and the Scratch Pad facility is very useful but most importantly Live Search comes up with far more relevant results. For some reason the Google Image Search comes up with lots of junk ifs almost as though its doing and "OR" on the search terms rather than an "AND".

      Without wishing to be off topic I would like to add that I have been a gmail user since the beginning and I am equally disappointed with the lack of improvements to gmail and in my view Yahoo offers a far superior email service.

      Maybe Google is going down the drain. It wouldn't take much for them to lose their main source of income as people switch to a superior search service.
  • Where's the beef?

    I'm just not seeing this vastly increased database they talk about. For any search I do, the number of results on Live don't begin to compare to Google.

    For common searches, no one cares -- I'm not really going to read down until the 23 millionth result. But, for some very reasonable, albeit niche, searches Live has LESS THAN A DOZEN hits while Google has many times more.

    You can't rank accurately content you don't have. Period. Which means there is no comparison between the sites.
    • I prefer a dozen "ggod" hits

      than 5 pages that haver little or nothing to do with what I need.

      But, I use all the major searchs depending on what I am doing. Some are better in one area, the other in a different area. Shrug...
      • Google this

        Can you give us the title of the books you wrote so we can compare how relevant Google is at finding them compared to Live?
      • You're like most

        I think that that is what most people do. Like I said in my response to the lead post, people just dont care. 99.9% of the time you will find it on any site - and within the top 2 pages. I dont even know what the other pages are for
  • Google officially dead...

    This is the last nail in the coffin for Google. There is no
    way to compete with Microsoft in general, and Live
    Search 2.0 is the single most important technical release
    since Vista. I sat through a presentation on it. Steve
    Ballmer HIMSELF spoke and said "SEARCH, SEARCH,
    SEARCH!!! I LOVE SEARCH!!!!". I left the presentation with
    my rep in his Porsche and we screeched back to the
    office and started searching. I put in a query "expensive
    cognac cigars" and then my rep and I took off.
    Mike Cox
    • You are SUCH A goof...

    • Mike's Blog

      Hey Mike, glad you are back.
      Interesting though, search for "Mike Cox Blog" on Google returns a link to your blog on the first position of the first page, but on a link to your blog DOES NOT APPEAR ANYWHERE.
      So good you are blogging on MySpace.
    • Exactly what ...

      did you and your rep take off???
  • Still the same joke Mike

    Still the same joke Mike. Give it a rest.
    Please let me have you contact info so I can send you a new joke book.
    • Mike might have a point

      im looking to switch from google as the only real option in search. or use other options when google doesnt do what i need it to do

      thanks microsoft... for spending millions on r & d.
    • Actually once a joke always a joke...

      Oh I meant the person not his comments. His comments are even remotely funny....just very, very weird.
    • Mike who?

      Mike I have to believe you work for Microsoft. They are sweating Linux now, they just lost a big one in Europe ($268,000,000) I believe, and Vista is a flop. Its over %40 behind XP at the same time. People are getting tired of their arrogance.