Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Microsoft's Mission: Search and Destroy

Microsoft's Mission: Search and Destroy: "Microsoft gave itself a quick education. After just 20 months of development, it launched a new Web-search service on Feb. 1, built from the ground up with homegrown technology. MSN Search, which replaces technology licensed from Yahoo!, is available in 10 languages and includes tools to help Web surfers refine queries for more relevant results. It also taps Microsoft's Encarta encyclopedia software to provide direct answers to specific questions.
So how does the new MSN Search stack up? It's in the game. Search results are on par with results from rivals. Its Instant Answers feature is a nifty little tool that taps Encarta to answer direct questions such as "Who was George Washington's Vice-President?" and "Who won the 1994 Stanley Cup?" But even Mehdi acknowledges that more work could be done, particularly in the Search Near Me feature that's supposed to spit out Web sites close to the surfer's location."

Also see this excellent business dynamics summary by Michael A. Cusumano in the latest issue of Communications of the ACM. (ACM Digital Library subscription required); excerpt:

"In any case, we have a battle on our hands, centered around search behavior and technology. Users will benefit from the various innovations from the Google portal, probably no matter what the outcome. Investors in Google's stock may not be so fortunate, however. Unless Google's many efforts succeed in retaining users, the battle is far from over. But perhaps the biggest concern should be that Google is diverting so much time and money to things that have little or nothing to do with improving its search technology. If Google wants to remain ahead of Yahoo!, Microsoft, and any newcomers that emerge, while retaining behemoth customers such as AOL, it had better remain the best search engine on the planet."
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