Google has made no bones about its not-so-modest intention to "organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful."
It turns out, unsurprisingly, Microsoft has similar ambitions and is planning to "index every database in the world and expose it in a structured, strongly typed fashion."
Microsoft is planning to achieve this lofty goal via the Fact Index. Chris Anderson, a Senior Development Lead on the Live Search Developer team, is leading the Fact Index project (according to Anderson's LinkedIn profile). Anderson describes the Fact Index this way:
"The fact index is Live Search’s next generation platform for serving structured data. The goal of this team is simple: index every database in the world and expose it in a structured, strongly typed fashion. The first iteration of the fact index allows anyone with an XML feed (schema not required) and some sample queries to contribute to search relevance without even writing any code. Subsequent iterations will include querying across multiple data sources, aggregating, merging, and deduping data from multiple providers, and a host of other hard information retrieval problems."
(Note: This Chris W. Anderson is not the same Chris Anderson who was an architect on the Windows Client Platform team working on Avalon, a k a Windows Presentation Foundation. Prior to working on Fact Index, Chris W. Anderson worked on Encarta, according to his bio, where he helped with "CD product, content management sysetm, SQL DBA, web service, web site."
Anderson's LinkedIn profile still uses the "Live Search" terminology, rather than "Bing." His profile notes that he's been working on Fact Index since 2005... When I asked a Microsoft spokesperson for more information on Fact Index and Anderson's work on it, I was told that the "Live Search" reference was nothing other than Anderson not updating his LinkedIn profile. The spokesperson didn't comment at all about Fact Index.
In other Microsoft search news, comScore's U.S. search-share data for March is out. Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in March with 65.7 percent market share (up 0.3 percentage points from February 2011), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 15.7 percent (down 0.4 percent) and Microsoft sites with 13.9 percent (up 0.3 percentage points). That means the combined MicroHoo (Microsoft + Yahoo) U.S. search share dropped slightly between February and March, from 29.7 percent, to 29.6 percent.