Microsoft begins Search, looks for right answers

NEW DELHI: Software giant Microsoft Corporation has unveiled the full-release version of its search engine, turning up the heat on web search leader Google.

The world?s largest software maker also revamped its MSN.com web portal www.msn.com to make its search engine more prominent and also tweaked the site?s content and advertising to remove clutter, said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft?s vice-president in charge of content and services at the MSN Internet division.

At stake are advertising dollars as well as bragging rights in one of the technology industry?s more interesting growth areas. ?We really are about answers and not about links,? Mr Mehdi said, taking a swipe at MSN Search?s nearest competitors.

To make answers to factual questions more relevant, Mr Mehdi said MSN Search would include the full range of information contained in Microsoft Encarta, Microsoft?s electronic encyclopedia.

Users will be able to get definitions, calculations, geographical and historical information, and other information.

The software major had decided two years ago to build its own search engine after seeing Google take the lead and profit from the billions advertisers pay to have their own ads displayed alongside search results.

Also, MSN is launching its new search engine in India and an Indianised Hindi version is also on the cards.

Interestingly, the India development centre is believed to have played an important role in developing tool bars for the new search engine.

?Over the next one year you could see some announcements about search engine in Indian languages. It is on our roadmap,? said Krishna Prasad, head of programming at Microsoft (India).

?Development teams from all over world contributed to the development of the search engine. Indian team worked on its tool bar,? Mr Prasad said.

The launch of MSN Search comes three months after the release of an initial beta, or test version.

Microsoft had been using Yahoo unit Inktomi to power its search services, but will no longer do so, with the full release of its search engine, which uses Microsoft?s own technology to sift through the web.

Microsoft?s new search engine will be culling results from a database index of over 5 bn web documents and pages. Google?s index database is over eight billion pages.

Microsoft has also integrated results that link directly into its MSN Music service, which was launched last September.

One new capability that Microsoft will be introducing with Monday?s launch is the ability to create RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, feeds that allow users to track search results through an incoming data feed on their personal computers.

Mr Mehdi also said that Microsoft would market its search engine via a marketing campaign directed at online users as well as television viewers. He did not disclose any projections for advertising spending.

Source: The Economic Times