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Microsoft Targets Google With Live Search Rollout, Acquisition

Microsoft is picking up speed in its race to overtake Google’s huge lead in search technology with the rollout of a beta search application and the announcement it has acquired a privately held company’s search technology assets.

The software giant rolled out a beta of its Windows Live Search application, including a new Windows Live Toolbar, on Tuesday at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference. Live Search will also be included in Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail once they are introduced, Microsoft said.

“Clearly, Microsoft is placing bets that its Live strategy is going to facilitate adoption of their search technology,” Charles King, principal of Pund-IT Research, told TechNewsWorld.

New Functionality

Features in Windows Live Search include search preview, scoping tools, a search slider bar that lets users ratchet up the amount and level of information on the results page, and smart scrolling, which lets users view search results without moving from page to page.

Live Search can also search across specific categories, such as image search, news search, RSS feeds, e-mail search, local search, MSN Shopping and MSN Spaces.

Windows Live Search is now available on Live.com, along with other search services.

Then there are the newly acquired assets of Onfolio, a private Internet research and information management company, portions of which have already been incorporated into Live Search. Windows Live Search Macros beta, for instance, lets users save and share specific queries and search scopes, and customize their search results — functionality that Onfolio offers.

“We’re unveiling a range of innovations that deliver an outstanding level of power and simplicity to search,” said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of Windows Live Search at Microsoft. “Combined with the rich browsing and integrated searching services delivered by Windows Live Toolbar and Live.com, the new search service offers customers the next generation of unified services today.”

Gunning for Google

Microsoft is obviously aiming at Google’s huge market share, King said. “The success of Google’s toolbar has forced Microsoft to offer something similar. Now we get to watch the war of the dueling tool bars.”

Yahoo has a stake in this fight as well. Indeed, Microsoft’s percent of the search market is minor compared to the shares Yahoo and Google command.

Yahoo and Google are taking a PC-agnostic, or network, approach to search. For Microsoft, though, search is all about owning the desktop, King said.

“Basically, it wants its logo on features on the desktop. That will be a critical point for Microsoft if it wants to have any success with its Live strategy,” King concluded.

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