Will Microsoft stay its search API course?

Will Microsoft -- which has been following and emulating most of Google's search moves -- dump its MSN Search API (which is SOAP-based)?

There's a lot of negative reaction around the blogosphere to Google's announcement that it will be dropping support for the SOAP version of its search application programming interface (API).

Google is pushing its Ajax Search API (a project in which former Windows architect Marc Lucovsky is involved) as the new and improved sucessor to the SOAP Search API. But others aren't convinced it's fair trade.

"(T)he killing off of this important API might be a permanent warning sign that sometimes, Google isn’t committed to its API-using developers... which might hurt the acceptance of present or future Google APIs," blogged Phillip Lenssen on the Google Blogoscoped site.

Dave Winer, One of the authors of the SOAP specification, is nudging other developers continue to back Google's SOAP API, even if Google itself doesn't:

"This leaves the door open to others -- my recommendation would be to support the API as-is so that developers who have built on it can just change the name of the server and their software works," Winer blogged. "Google blinked in search. Who would have thought such an opportunity would present itself. Seems a perfect opening for Amazon or Yahoo."

Will Microsoft -- which has been following and emulating most of Google's search moves -- go the same route and dump its MSN Search API (which is SOAP-based)? I haven't seen any Microsoft blog posts indicating that such a move is in the cards.

Dare Obasanjo, a program manager who works on the Windows Live Contacts team at Microsoft, simply noted in his blog post that Google's move shouldn't be a surprise.

"Google has replaced a web service with their AJAX Search API which is a widget that is easier to monetize," Obasanjo blogged. "I'd also note that (PodTech's Robert) Scoble telegraphed that this move was coming in his post 'Google changes its monetization strategy toward a Microsoft one?' which implies that Google AdSense will be bundled with usage of Google's search widgets."

Microsoft has said very little about its Windows Live developer strategy since this past summer. The company does offer a number of software development kits for various Live components (including Search), as well as forum support for them.

But developers are not likely to hear much more officially from Microsoft about its Live development strategy until the Mix '07 conference in Las Vegas, which is scheduled for the end of April 2007.

One other interesting data point: Earlier this year, Google hired one of Microsoft's main developer evangelists, Vic Gundotra. Gundotra is slated to start in the summer of 2007. Sounds like Google needs him.