Microsoft is officially releasing Windows Live, having Windows Live Search replace MSN Search (exactly 22 months after it originally released MSN Search). Live Search and Live.com leave beta, and Live Search becomes the new destination for users searching from the MSN homepage. The changeover hasn’t completed, but it is underway right now.
The millions of users who use MSN are going to eventually run a search. When they do, they will find something different enough from what they are used to on Google that they might decide to take a look around. They might discover Live Search’s neverending search results. They might discover Live’s Image Search, with its expanding thumbnails, resizing slider, scratchpad and great preview mode (and a really cool new “Related People” mode that is damn near perfect!). They might discover Windows Live Local, with its great map dragging, easy pushpins, saved and shareable locations, overhead and 3/4 views.
They might discover a whole bunch of other great Live services, like Spaces, QnA and Expo, or try the new Live Mail. They might download and install some great software, like Live Mail Desktop, Live Messenger, or OneCare. Or they might not.
It’s a lot to hope for, certainly, and it would be great for Microsoft if it all worked out. If there’s a chance to have a slam dunk, this is it. Windows Live is a ton of great technology, at exactly the right time, while none of its rivals are taking as many chances. MSN has a lot of users who don’t know what Web 2.0 is, and they might discover AJAX for the very first time when they hit that search box. If they love it, it will be Microsoft that introduces them to Web 2.0, and Windows Live Search that replaces their Google.
Will it pull off? We’ll see if the market share starts inching up by the end of the year.
Image search results pages also includes a slider to let the user determine the layout of the page and a pulldown to limit to specific sizes of images. Each image also includes a link to a â€œscratchpadâ€ where you can store images. The AJAX drag and drop to the scratchpad is nice.
Searching for image of people, for example (Warren Buffet) includes a a list of related names. Btw, Ask.com has been using Zoom technology with their image database since the beginning of the year. Youâ€™ll not only find related names of people but also ideas to narrow or expand your search. Warren Buffet example at Ask.com. Zoom is also available with web search at Ask while Live Search only offers related searches.
Search page changes
First, the page is much faster. The search box is wider and we’re including messaging for key new features. You’ll also notice that the Jewel (the drop down in the upper left hand corner) is now available on this page.
Direct URLs to personalized page and search
This has been a popular request by many users. Now you can type beta.search.live.com (soon search.live.com) and go directly to the search page. Similiarly you can type my.live.com and home.live.com and go directly to the personalized page.
live.com is now accessible including screen reader mode which can be enabled via the ‘Options’ dialog.
The release also is part of the Redmond software company’s push to offer a number of free, Web-based services under its new “Live” brand name. The approach has been aimed at helping the company establish a fresh, separate Internet brand for those services, but it also has confused some users more familiar with the company’s traditional MSN Internet branding strategy.
“In general, I don’t think a lot of consumers outside of computer enthusiasts … are aware of Windows Live or know what it is,” said Matt Rosoff, independent researcher with Directions on Microsoft.
Microsoft plans to use Live Search on its MSN portal, and it also planning to promote Live Search later this fall. But Rosoff said the company needs to do more — whether it’s a massive marketing push or some sort of broader tie-in with other products — to tell uses what Live is, and persuade them to switch from Google and others.
One thing that no one is talking about (at least not yet) is the pretty significant update to the mobile search experience. There’s a new user interface, support for instant answers like Encarta and finance, some new scopes like news and maps, lots of changes to local search (bigger maps!) and more. You can check it out from your phone at http://mobile.live.com/search. The team is blogging here: http://itsallmobile.spaces.live.com.
Live is Microsoftâ€™s key play for the future and new company leader Ray Ozzie has been a vocal advocate of Live in particular and web based software as a service in general. Live.com places new emphasis on customization, RSS, blogs, video and other areas of emerging interest. Start.com was to fulfill a similar function, but when Start lost steam last fall the team posted to their blog calling for engineers interested in working on Live.com.
The company says that MSN attracts 465 million unique users worldwide per month. Itâ€™s long been believed that the MSN brand was being fazed out and would be replaced by Live.com as the intended home page and search engine for Microsoftâ€™s huge user base. You could say that Live.com has a much more contemporary feel to it than MSN – or you could say that itâ€™s a weak attempt to mimic Googleâ€™s sparse interface that ends up looking unfriendly and awkward. Todayâ€™s announcement also underlines the strangeness that Microsoftâ€™s new YouTube competitor is being launched under the MSN brand.