On July 30, Microsoft began rolling out a new home page for Live Search and is making available another update to the test version of its Live Mesh collaboration/synchronization service.
The new Live Search homepage includes background rotating images with "interactive hotspots" embedded in those images that direct users to vertical search results related to that image.
Microsoft is rolling out the new home page over the next 24 hours in the U.S., with other markets to follow "in the future.
"Our goal for the home page is to find the best way to enhance users' sense of discovery, surprise, and delight while balancing engineering realities for a great user experience.
"Extensive user research and exploration of many concepts with our customers pointed us in the direction for this design. We want the page to be a great place to start a search and also to intrigue and inform as well. We think hotspots will help users discover parts of Live Search they might not know while not distracting from the core purpose of the page — searching.
"We think the new design is a great start, but there's more to come, with lots of interesting directions that we'll be exploring in our next releases of the home page."
(As LiveSide.Net noted recently, Microsoft also is working on a redesign of the MSN home page.)
Also on the Live front, Microsoft is delivering some minor fixes to the Live Mesh tech preview build that it first introduced in April, said the company via an e-mail message that went to Live Mesh testers today.
Among the new Live Mesh updates (delivered via Live Mesh software build 0.9.3103.9 and Live Desktop build 0.9.3103.9) are:
- Improved peer-to-peer synchronization performance
- A higher limit on the total number of customers now allowed to be part of the Tech Preview. No more waiting list in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand
- No limit on the number of Live Mesh invitations available to Tech Preview participants in those same countries
Microsoft is close to releasing the Mac client version of the Live Mesh Tech Preview. On July 29, the company accidentally made live the Web page notifying testers of the Mac client's availability, but subsequently pulled the page down.
When I asked yesterday about the availability of the Live Mesh Mac client, I received this answer from a Microsoft spokeswoman:
"The download page that you reference below was inadvertently posted today, however as noted on the page, Mac support is a critical piece of the Live Mesh service and the team continues to make progress in delivering that functionality. There is minimal support now, but we are not sharing further details on Mac support at this time."
There's still no word on when/if Microsoft is going to rebrand Live Search. In my view, until it does, the company can make all the changes in the world to the home page but it won't matter, as many (I'd say most) potential users still have no idea that Microsoft's dedicated search site is www.live.com.