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Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Microsoft Tests Revamped Windows Live Search Engine


Microsoft plans to start testing a revamped Web search engine on Tuesday that includes new features aimed at closing gaps with Google and Yahoo.

Windows Live Search is one of the central applications for Microsoft's strategic shift to unify the company's Web-based software and services, such as e-mail, instant messaging and computer virus detection, at its Windows Live site.

The new features highlighted in Windows Live Search allow users to display all query results on one page without moving from page to page or to adjust the amount of information displayed from each search result with a slider bar.

"It isn't always about hunt and fetch," said Yusuf Medhi, senior vice president in charge of strategy, marketing and search development at MSN, Microsoft's Internet arm. "People are getting less and less satisfied with search."

Microsoft trails Web search leader Google and number-two Yahoo in the U.S. search market with an 11 percent share. Together, Google and Yahoo processed 70 percent of all queries in January, according to Neilsen//NetRatings.

Under Microsoft's "beta" or general test preview, Windows Live Search will run queries on live.com, the company's site for Windows Live that allows user to customize news, weather and other content.

Once the new search engine is officially launched sometime around the summer, Windows Live Search will replace MSN Search on Microsoft's main content Web site, MSN.com, the company said. Windows Live is also still in test form.

Windows Live Search will also allow users to save specific parameters to limit queries to certain Web sites and then share those "macros" with other people with similar interests.

"We're going to make search more of a platform," said Medhi, who plans to recruit third-party bloggers and Web sites to write their own parameters to provide more relevant query results.

Medhi said the company's research consistently shows that one out of every two Web queries still fail to produce the answer sought by the user, fueling dissatisfaction.


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