July 01, 2004

Microsoft Prepares to Go Head-to-Head with Google

I've heard of public beta software, but public alpha software?

MSN Search -- More Useful Everyday: Welcome to a sneak peek of MSN's new search technology

Search Error
MSN Search is temporarily unable to process your request.

Please try again in a few minutes.

EID: f:2114719238 - 1041:1041:10004:1059
HC: 71d61b16

Posted by DeLong at July 1, 2004 11:05 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

One could argue that any point-zero release from Microsoft is a public alpha release.

Posted by: byron on July 1, 2004 11:48 AM


Well, on the bright side for Microsoft, getting "More Useful Everyday" is looking pretty easy at this point.

Posted by: a different chris on July 1, 2004 01:13 PM


I just gave it a try, typing in -there's a bad moon arising- to see what came up. I'm used to google's nanosecond response-- this took 5-6 seconds. The first link was to a Creedence lyrics site, so good. The third also led to the Creedence song-- that is, all the words in the search grouped together. The second and fourth had nothing to do with the song, the line, or the words grouped together-- leading instead to sites with lines that had some of the words, but not all of them, and in no particular order: like

===There's a new layout, it's a ... bad. comments [ x6 ] Wednesday, June 09, 2004 [ 07:33 PM CST ] Music: A Perfect Circle - A Stranger So. Audrey got Padfoot.nu up. You should really go visit it. :3 It's really awesome. And then ...


Notice that it takes 's as a separate word.

There were pages and pages of links that had one word like "bad" or "arising"-- worthless.

In contrast, Google immediately brought up many pages of links to the Creedence song lyrics. Now if I weren't looking for that song when I typed in that line, I might have been a bit frustrated, but I'd know also to leave out one word, maybe, to get different results.

Now some might say that the MSN results were "Better" in that I was offered a lot of different interpretations of what I meant by that combination of words. But I guess I'd never have typed in all those words if I were looking for references that had only one or two of those. Google understood I probably wanted first references to that particular set of words sequenced in that particular way-- the Creedence lyrics.

But that's the history of Microsoft-- do it late and do it badly, and somehow still succeed.

Posted by: ali on July 1, 2004 01:37 PM


Microsoft needs to take a page from the GOP Apologist Handbook and focus on the rate, not the level.

Microsoft's search site is 20% better than it was a week ago, whereas Google is only 1% better than it was a week ago, therefore Microsoft is better than Google and if you disagree then you are a pessimist.

Posted by: Kuas on July 1, 2004 02:38 PM


Good news, though: the "miserable failure" Google hack works on Microsoft Search, too.

Posted by: derPlau on July 1, 2004 03:30 PM


So I'm not a big fan of MS, but I tried their search site just now anyway.

It's actually not bad. And it has one feature (stemming) that I believe google still lacks. And it was fast enough when I just used it. But, let's face it: Google is a way of life. It is quite possibly the very best user-level software application ever. And, yes, I do mean that.

Now, MS can throw a lot of weight and money behind this, and I expect it will be a respectable competitor. But Google is the one company that poses by far the greatest threat to Microsoft's continuing domination. And Microsoft knows this well. It's still unclear to me what they can really do to bring Google down. With their previous opponents, all it took is a determined effort, some creative counter measures, and (usually) a cheaper price. I see now counter measures, there is not cheaper price, and being more determined than Google..will be tough.

Google says: Bow down Giblets!

Posted by: Jonathan King on July 1, 2004 08:54 PM


If they go public, MS will just buy'em.

Posted by: Jeff Lawson on July 1, 2004 11:26 PM


Jonathon, the biggest threat to Google, IMHO, is the Gates Insanity Field, which makes Microsoft competitors go insane. In Google's case, the trick will be to function as a public company, while still delivering just what the user wants, with minimum interference and crap.

If you go to Google and it tries to make you set up a user account, or something like that, it's time to dump your Google stock.

Posted by: Barry on July 2, 2004 03:21 AM


On the subject of Search, if not MSN:

Brad, isn't Steve Jobs' announcement earlier this week of Apple's Spotlight technology a Great Leap Forward towards the search issues you outlined in a post a couple weeks ago? Apparently it does real time searches not only of file name and content, but also metadata; my impression is that much of the metadata is invisible, i.e., that it picks up a lot of info without it having to be entered. Some commenters were suggesting that this technology suddenly puts Apple into the Google arena, although Apple officials say it's not a portable technology.

Posted by: JRoth on July 2, 2004 09:40 AM


Maybe I am just bitter and shrill, but *announcements* by CEOs are not Great Leaps Forward. Running, downloadable code that does not cause my laptop to thrash because of its measly inadequate 1 GB of RAM are Great Leaps Forward, not *announcements*...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on July 2, 2004 10:27 AM


Dum spiro, spero - While I breathe, I hope. (Cicero)

Posted by: she males on July 10, 2004 01:28 AM


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