Has Microsoft stolen this from Apple? Has Apple blatantly stolen something from Google? These types of questions are constantly batted around to discredit other organisations and companies by idiosyncratic bloggers.
In the instance of Microsoft Research's new social networking search item, U Rank and Viveri, some of these ideas have clearly been pinched from the Google honeypot of improvements. I personally couldn't give two hoots about the fact, as better choice and better features makes students a happy bunch of people.
It's unclear as of yet what the point of these two new projects are, Viveri which is closed off still, and U Rank which is available for "testing". However, it seems Microsoft Research are using this sandbox space to improve their ever failing 9% marketshare in the search arena, by testing new features already fully functional in Google search results.
The search engine has unique features in that you can edit the search results from the query you type in, "tagging" the search result in essence. I can type in "zdnet" as a search result, click the link I like and tag it with "cbs", allowing that result to show up in "cbs" searches.
The ability to move results up and down is something Google has done for some time now, but it's nice to see Microsoft are adding this functionality - essentially allowing the user to improve the results for the end user... themselves.
"Experimental search interfaces can be too unusual or jarring to trial directly on unprepared users of our primary search engine, but refinement and improvement rely on interaction with real users."
By keeping Live Search "as is" for the time being, this allows the researchers to open the new features to as many as those who wish to use the experimental features, without impacting on the use of the original search engine.