Windows Live Search is expected to go live Monday night after less than a year in beta mode.
Microsoft said its new online search portal will feature an improved user interface that fetches more accurate Web search results.
“In addition, Live Search will now power MSN Search. Live.com will also be released from beta, as will Live Local Search, but only in the U.S. and U.K. They are all part of Microsoft’s new set of Internet services and software.
Though the search engine was in beta mode for a relatively short time, the company felt enough progress had been made to release it globally after examining user feedback, meeting with consumers and studying search behavior, said Derrick Connell, search business general manager. Connell called the release “a watershed moment” for Microsoft.
Live Search lets users hunt for news, images, video, blogs and RSS feeds through one search portal. The new features are intended to help simplify Internet searches, like the scoping bar on the top of the page that keeps the information from a previous search so the next search is done in the context of the first.
Microsoft said its new Web search will return with more precise results faster. Prior to the latest version of Live Search, the average search from query to final results took 11 minutes, Connell said. And half the time, those searches ended fruitlessly. That happened when users clicked on a link, refined the query, and not finding what they needed, gave up, he said. “For a large population of searchers, they want to run a query and get the answer they need” right away.
The new “related searches” feature on the right side of the screen uses an algorithm that utilizes the previous queries and results of others who performed the same search. Another Web results improvement runs a search on the contents of the destination site, eliminating the need to use the site’s own search function, which is almost never as powerful as a major search engine.
Microsoft also improved the image search process. Connell said the company’s research showed more than half of users would click “next” when perusing search results, meaning the image they were looking for did not appear in the first batch of results. He says they’ve solved that problem by putting all image query results on a single page with a slider bar that controls the size of thumbnails.”
Live Search has indeed become faster and it is returning results the same way as google. With its new look and algorithm, we need to wait and see how it beats Google. As far as Live mail is concerned, it has to go a long way in order to beat GMail especially in speed, layout and usability.