Microsoft to launch new search engine technology

Microsoft Corp. is set to unleash its much-anticipated search technology on Thursday, as it ramps up efforts to take on market leader Google Inc.

The new search engine will go live on the company’s MSN Web site, a representative for the company said.

The software giant has made clear its plans to conquer the lucrative search market, teasing industry watchers with Web and desktop search previews. In June, Microsoft upgraded its MSN Search site and it has been posting new search technology prototypes at its testing site. Meanwhile, company executives have stated their intentions to take Google to the mat.

Now Web users will be able to test-drive the company’s latest search efforts. Although details of the new search engine weren’t available on Wednesday, Editor Danny Sullivan said that he had been playing around with search betas on Microsoft’s Sandbox site earlier this week.

“From what I’ve seen on Sandbox, the technology is still pretty unremarkable,” Sullivan said. Although he acknowledged that the search tools he sampled did not have all the “bells and whistles” that are expected with the full release, Sullivan said that some test searches did not bring up authoritative sites that one would expect from a search engine.

“From what I’ve seen so far, they haven’t been savvy in terms of search optimization,” Sullivan said.

This could be a major problem for the Redmond, Wash., company if it expects to leap past Google and Yahoo Inc. According to Sullivan, to stand out a new search technology needs to serve up incredibly relevant results, possibly delivered in a new way, such as being able to tap separate databases for different types of searches.

Otherwise, new search engines should build in a set of good features if they want to lure in users. “It could be victory by a bunch of little cuts instead of one sword,” Sullivan said.

Whatever approach Microsoft ends up taking, it appears determined to pierce the top of the market. MSN Search is already number three in the market, according to Sullivan, so the company is building from a solid user base.

Related Articles:

Andreessen: Microsoft to make IE more competitive, (Oct. 7, 2004)

Will the browser wars begin anew?, (Sept. 3, 2004)

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