After receiving a sound pummelling in previous rounds against the mighty Google, Microsoft has produced a leaner, meaner more bad-ass search engine – and this one looks like it might go the distance.
Ditching their previous reliance on the Yahoo/Inktomi search index, the all-new MSN Search service has been created from the ground up using a Microsoft-designed proprietary index (although the company are still using Yahoo-owned Overture to deliver Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising).
With a spartan, advert-free interface straight out of the Google school of design, the minimalist screen lets users search for keywords from a rich range of sources including web pages, news feeds, images, news headlines, Encarta, music downloads and files on user’s PCs.
All the usual gizmos are on board too, with MSN Search offering word definitions, mathematic calculations, conversions, sports information and just about everything else that their competitors provide.
The new product reflects the intense competition in the increasingly important Internet-based search technology market. With Google already offering a free e-mail program, photo-editing software and a desktop search program for finding files on Windows computers, this development can be seen as Microsoft trying to protect their turf.
But will it be good enough to provide a viable alternative to the current search industry big boys, Yahoo! and Google, both of whom have more market share than Microsoft in the search business?
Danny Sullivan of searchenginewatch.com isn’t completely convinced:
“The core search engine is good and a welcomed new “search voice” in the space. However, it does not make a massive leap beyond what’s offered by Google, Yahoo or Ask Jeeves — the other three major search companies that provide their own voices of what’s deemed relevant on the web.”
This week’s MSN Search launch probably won’t have much of an immediate impact on the search-engine market, but backed by an advertising budget the size of a small country’s GDP, we can expect things to heat up nicely in the coming months.
The timing of the launch, the day before Google announce their first full year trading results may also not have been coincidental.