Ask three people what "Windows Live" is - and you might get more than three answers: "It's a social network" (Windows Live Spaces); "a photo organizing service" (Windows Live Photo Gallery); "an email client" (Windows Live Hotmail)...but no matter how many answers you get, you probably won't hear "a major search provider". Yes, despite Microsoft's lavishing of money, time, attention, and even offering cash back for searches, Windows Live Search is not a major contender in the search space currently dominated by Google and Yahoo.
Would a name change help? TechCrunch claims that a rebranding of Live Search as Kumo (Japanese for "cloud" or "spider") may be on tap for early 2009.
Will breaking Live Search away from the rest of the diverse Windows Live family with a new name help it prosper, or are you looking for better features? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Now that the possibility of Microsoft acquiring Yahoo has been wiped out, Microsoft is steadily trying to improve its standing amongst search engines through strategic acquisitions and deals. To this end, its Live search service has now been integrated into Facebook. Users can now search the web using Live search from the familiar search bar on the top right corner of the popular social networking website.
The search results are displayed within Facebook and are accompanied by advertisements on the right side - as is the norm with search ads. This particular move is being viewed as a giant stride – at least potentially - for Live search, although Facebook will still has to convince users to use the search feature.
Infantile search engine Cuil came out a cropper during its launch when it crumbled under the weight of its lofty promises – blame it on the copywriter’s strong imagination. But any startup needs some time, sans any distraction, before it can stake a claim for a place in the big league.
However, Cuil’s management will find it difficult to stay focused on its development roadmap for the time being. The startup has lost the services of its VP Product, Louis Monier, who has quit. Monier was an employee worth his weight in gold for Cuil due to his vast experience in the field of online search. It has been confirmed that there were “philosophical differences” between Monier and the Cuil bosses. A huge blow for Cuil as retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges for any startup.
Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch had a chance to talk to Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google, about her “search is 90-95% solved” story in the LA times.
Mayer said in the original article that “Search is an unsolved problem. We have a good 90 to 95% of the solution, but there is a lot to go in the remaining 10%”. Mayer also alluded that Google still has some mountains to climb before its search has fully adapted to the internet and its growing trends, such as embedded video, maps, and electronic books. Arrington agrees that internet search is still “in its infancy.”
Mayer ended the conversation with saying that the ideal search engine is the user’s “best friend”; it should tailor answers to you based on preference and existing knowledge, and ask, “What do you want?” Hopefully, this is an indication of what’s to come to the Google search engine.
The search engine startup Cuil (pronouced "Cool") we first told you about in July isn't very "cool" in the way its indexing robot works with websites. TechCrunchreports that Cuil's Twiceler website crawler is bringing many websites to their knees.
What is Twiceler doing? Last year, posters on The Admin Zone forum on Twiceler pointed out that the crawler was creating many connections in a short amount of time, resulting in an de facto denial of service "attack" on sites being crawled. While Twiceler doesn't work the same way now, it's still behaving badly.
For example, the JazzyChad blog reported recently that Twiceler was indexing invalid addresses that would become 404 (file not found) errors when Cuil users tried to follow them. Joe Kirp's Popular Science and Technology blog reports that:
The Twiceler bot is probably the most stupid crawler I've ever seen, it just downloads everything it can find and it seems that it just won't ever stop. If there's a page using dynamic input in a URL (a calendar for example) it will download the same page 100,000 and more times, simply by following all kinds of dynamic links it can find without using any kind of intelligent limitation.
By downloading thousands of pages per hour on each website it can cause an incredible traffic on a server, and dynamic scripts (written in Perl, Python or PHP for example) start causing an immense CPU load that may even take your entire server down (as reported by several webmasters). Twiceler is really harmful and can cost both money and downtime. A well written crawler such as Googlebot or Slurp (Yahoo) would never affect a website in such a malicious way.
How can you stop Twiceler from bringing your website to a crashing halt? To find out how, and to sound off on your Twiceler problems, follow the jump.
Microsoft’s quest for online dominance it would seem, will take more than just cash to realize. The aborted Yahoo deal was but a small part of a multifaceted approach towards capturing long term search engine market share, the most lucrative of which involves e-commerce. For those who can’t remember back that far,
on May 31st 2008
Microsoft announced plans to offer consumers cash back for transactions with select e-retailers which were found using the Live search engine. The comScore US market share results show a slight increase after the first month which represents a boost of about 0.7%. But July’s results saw the search engine give back 0.3% to its competitors. Even though the promotion has only been running for about two months, tech critics seem to think the idea is already running out of steam and express doubt that it will have any meaningful long term gains. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will continue the program as it may see any gain in market share to be a success. This seems even more likely when you consider how slowly search engine market share moves these days. To put it in perspective, during the same two month period Google’s market share rose only 0.1% to 61.8% and Yahoo dropped, but only by 0.1% to 20.5%. According to eMarketer Inc., U.S. online retail sales are projected to grow to about $335 billion by the year 2012. Even today, 68 percent of all online transactions began through a search engine.
Do you think Microsoft can make a comeback with cash back? Click the jump and let us know.
Just in time for the start of the Olympics, Neowin.net reports that Microsoft's Live Search has added many new features to help you keep track of what's happening in Beijing:
Live Search News now includes a direct link to Beijing 2008 Olympics news.
The new xRank Live Search page features an Olympics category where you can track the popularity and news coverage of individual athletes.
Select Video from the Live Search home page and enter Olympics (or follow this link) to search for Olympics-related videos.
Enter an Olympic athlete's name in Live Search, and Live Search will display Olympics-related information first, a feature Microsoft calls Athlete Instant Answer.
Microsoft has also tweaked how searches for Olympics-related keywords work. Search for events such as "swimming" or "USA basketball" and you'll see the latest medal count for the event or the country once the events begin, a feature know as Medal Instant Answer.
And, to round off the Olympic-friendly repackaging of Live Search for Beijing 2008, Microsoft plans to display various Olympics-related images as backgrounds on the Live Search home page http://www.live.com/.
Note that some of these features might not take effect until Olympics competition begins.
The changes to Live Search are convenient if you're a fan of the Olympics, but how do you feel about a search engine's tweaking its results according to current events? Do you like the idea, or does it smack of a bit of "Big Brother?" We'll take your feedback after the jump.
At some point in our lives, we have said, “I can do it better than my employer”. It’s a fact of life of being a minion for some company that has driven you like an Alaskan sled dog in Death Valley during the middle of summer. The realization usually comes some point after you crawl out of a fetal position after work. For most of us that’s as far as the thought goes. For a few daring, brave people that choose to gamble free time, hard earned savings, credit, and sometimes their very souls they go out and actually try to do it better than their former employers. That is just what the people behind the site Cuil.com are trying to do. They want to build a better search engine. Better than Google.
Anna Patterson worked at Google for two years and helped build some of the core structures of the company’s search engine, including some of the formulas it uses for ranking search results. Together with other Google alumni, including her husband Tom Costello, Russell Power, who worked with Patterson on the Google’s massive index, Louis Monier, a former chief technology officer for AltaVista along with about 30 other employees, they are trying to build a better search engine than Google's. A huge undertaking considering Google has over 61% of the search engine market share.
ReadWriteWeb.com is letting the world in on a secret, mainstream users can’t find the address bar. If you’ve ever done over the phone tech support you know this is true. They end up typing into a search engine, or a search engine bar, or into some piece of foul malware that wiggled into their browser. They will type anywhere but in the address bar.
What made ReadWriteWeb notice this trend was a report by Hitwise that showed more than 10% of the searches for the top 10 dating search terms were URLs like match.com and plentyoffish.com and almost all of the queries were something that .com could have been added to for direct navigation.
For competitors this isn’t such a bad thing. If you buy into Adwords your site can come up on a search for a competitor. For instance, type eHarmony on Google and the sponsor links come up with Match.com and LoveandSeek.com. Of course had they just tagged on the .com onto eHarmony in their address bar they would have gone straight there and never saw the links for the other sites.
Is it a bad thing for users? Not really. I make plenty of fat fingered typos and I hate landing on some misspelled domain that is brimming with malware. You avoid that altogether by searching. It is also human nature to take shortcuts. Users know they’ll get there whether they add the .com or not.
It’s not so hot for the companies that shelled out big bucks for the domain name. Domain names haven’t worked so hot since they came out and squatters snatched up as many as they could to sit on waiting for a huge offer. It’s led to some creative names for companies that desperately wanted their domain name to match their company name however.
Yahoo rejected the proposal in a press statement citing several grounds for the decision. It believes that the terms of the proposed search-operation buyout are unfavorable for the company’s stockholders. However, it has softened its earlier stance a bit and now appears to favor a full sellout at $33/share, as originally proposed by Microsoft but rejected by it. The fate of the reigning Yahoo Board of Directors, and consequently, the deal will now be decided on August 1 – board election Day.