Today I was at the Redmond office of Microsoft and it was an interesting day of discussions about... well I'm not allowed to say due to NDA. But most of the last hour of presentations was bloggable. TechCrunch has a good summary post, to which I'll add a few more details.
Live.com is preparing for more improvements. Program Manager Sanaz Shari wants it to be "the best place to search" and they are pinning a lot of their hopes on "gadgets" - which are mini applications, or "snippets of data" as Sanaz described it. The themes of Live.com being a "desktop on the web" and making the Web feel like a desktop app -- were hammered home again.
The most interesting part was the announcement of an upcoming tv recommendations gadget, which talks to your Media Center box in order to program tv shows. It also has a nice ratings system. This is an example of some of the "advanced gadgets" that will be coming soon from Microsoft's Live.com team and which will hopefully make it a more compelling experience.
Another new Live.com feature, that is actually being released tomorrow, is images integrated within live.com RSS feeds. It's just a minor enhancement, to make the current bland homepage a little more colorful. Which it needs :-)
Also discussed in the 'bloggable' part was MSN's new Adcenter, which is apparently strong on demographic data. And the demo I saw did have some impressive charting and analysis tools. So where do they get the demographic data from? From Passport and lots of other "touchpoints".
An online classified offering called Fremont was also discussed. It's a craigslist-like, localized app based on an internal Microsoft service called Micronews. Its business model is (what else) contextual advertising and premium listings.
Oh and there was also a lot of passionate debate during the day about recent US government requests for the major search engines to provide search records - and specifically MSN's decision to comply. There's a bunch of Search Champers doing a podcast, as I write this, about the privacy issues. It seemed to get people fairly excited.
That's a wrap of the non-NDA issues that were discussed at Microsoft Search Champs today. It's been a full-on two days in Seattle so far - and tomorrow won't be any different!