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May 26, 2009

Bing, Live Search's New Interface

Microsoft's search engine didn't manage to become successful, despite of its many improvements, rebrandings and promotions. Nielsen reported that Live Search's US market share in the US was 9.9%, while Hitwise reported that the most commonly searched terms on Live Search are "Google" and "Yahoo".

Microsoft has many new distribution deals for Live Search, but the main problem is to have a product that's good enough to keep the new users. The next iteration of Live Search, that will be publicly available soon, integrates PowerSet's technology to offer an enhanced view for Wikipedia pages, shows only the top result for many navigational queries and an automatically generated menu of related searches. The service saves a list of recent searches and displays them in the left sidebar, next to the search refinements.

Live Search's new homepage


For navigational queries, only the top result is displayed. In some cases, you'll also see a customer service phone number (but not if you're searching for "google").


Live Search shows the top results for related queries on the same page. If you search for "audi a4", you'll also get results for "audi a4 repair", "audi a4 used", "audi a4 reviews" etc.


When you mouse over a search result, Live Search shows a longer snippet and more related pages


The enhanced view for Wikipedia pages isn't very exciting, unlike the similar feature from PowerSet


Unfortunately, I didn't see any improvements in ranking search results, so the only thing that's changed is the user interface. Live Search's interface is closer to an encyclopedia page, but I'm not sure if overloading users with information is the solution to offering better results.

AdAge suggests that Live Search will have a catchier name: Bing and Microsoft will pay $80 million for promoting the search engine. "People with knowledge of the planned push said the ads won't go after Google, or Yahoo for that matter, by name. Instead, they'll focus on planting the idea that today's search engines don't work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems. That, Microsoft is hoping, will give consumers a reason to consider switching search engines, which, of course, is one of Bing's biggest challenges."

New features rarely bring more users to a search engine, even if they're useful and innovative. People want a search engine that constantly offers good search results, not just for popular searches or for a few hand-picked queries.

Update (June 1st): The new interface is now available at bing.com. As I already mentioned, there's no significant improvement in ranking the results, so Bing is Live Search with a new interface and a new way to display the same poor results.

23 comments:

  1. this seems to be a diversion from MSFT usual strategy of copying GOOG- this would be interesting to watch

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  2. do they have integrated youtube search, because Google Universal search is killer

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  3. I still don't know how it works. While using firefox I can see the new interface but while using IE7 I don't see any difference. There is no categorization, no left menu, nothing.

    I wonder how to set it up.

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  4. The New Live Search Homepage looks more Promising and interactive. New Live Search homepage has background image which will change frequently, augmented with what we call “hotspots“.

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  5. I'm sticking with Google. This is not Microsoft's area of expertise. Clearly, Microsoft needs to focus on other avenues of development, and leave search to the people who are good at search, specialize at search, and who's bread and butter is search. Microsoft is desperate to win, and this desperation isn't going to help them win. If they truly wanted to build better search, they should do it quietly and pour their resources into innovating (or, as they usually do, buying innovation) a search product that is a worthy competitor to Google. Moreover, a hostile takeover of Yahoo may be their best long term bet to create a bridge to a cloudy future.

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  6. Why haven't Live delved into the niche of custom search engines? This would have been an opportunity to popularize their main search engine along the way.

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  7. @ Micah and Katie -

    Hey Guys, my name is Aaron from the Live Search Outreach Team. Just wanted to answer your question about YouTube video search using Live Search. We currently have the ability to browse by only YouTube videos or refine by other sites and categories.

    I'm personally a huge fan of news bloopers, so here's a link to some of those: http://search.live.com/video/results.aspx?q=news+bloopers+filterui%3amsite-youtube.com&FORM=S6VR

    Let me know if there's anything else I can answer :)

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  8. The design not looking too much impressive in my view.

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  9. Hey there Aaron,

    Is the new live.com features available to everyone. I've been having issues within my office that some get the last version of live.com and other do not (we are using the same URL). I thought it was a browser issue but apparently is not.

    I wonder why this is happening.

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  10. i have tried (semi-accidentally) yahoo, msn, and some other non-google websearches, but i've accumulated such a huge collection of fixes and workarounds for google (which google frequently breaks!), that i don't feel tempted to "switch".
    besides that, ms in recent years seems obsessed with burying or eliminating features|functionality and "configurability" from their UIs. you'd think that ms have become envious of Linux and osx in the wrong ways :-)

    PS. congrats to "googlesystem.blogspot.com" for setting the width of this textarea to a usable value ;-)
    however, no thanks for effing-up scripts so much that i had to toggle them off&on and reload the page about 6 times before the submit button (immediately below) worked.
    wasn't the form-submit html code worked out before netscape3?

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  11. I really don't understand microsoft's focus on live.com: they update the UI from time to time, but the search results are still very bad (from my point of view).
    Just one example: I'm from Germany, and if I search for "Dallas Mavericks", I get the Wikipedia entry at #1, seven entries from newspapers or blogs and two categories from blogs. This is far too special - bad...
    If I do the same search at Google, I get the offical page at #1, the Wikipedia entry at #2, the official Mavs blog at #3 and ESPN team overview for the Mavs at #4. These results are more general: they match the results I would expect and they are *much* better than the results from live.com.
    This is reproducible for various other topics, so MSFT should try to improve the search results first. The UI is irrelevant if the results are that bad.

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  12. Its not Live Search anymore as you constantly refered. Its Bing, all new search website.

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  13. I've been using Bing for the last few days and so far I am impressed. I did not have to revert back to Google for any of my searches so far.

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  14. Can you set search results to be global?
    When I search 'java' it gets www.java.com/tr instead of www.java.com or java.sun.com Sure I can change my region but then I can't search in specific region from main page.

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  15. Bing Is Not Google

    wwww.bingisnotgoogle.com

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  16. Personally I've found Bing works pretty well, much better than live search ever did. I still use google for 90% of my searches, but Bing's product search is much better IMHO (especially now a month on), and their travel search is also pretty good.

    As a developer I have to say that MS has really turned around the last 8 years taking the competition with stride. Technologies like Silverlight, WPF, .NET have completely changed the developers create interfaces and every one of them has been an response to competition. GOOG is new and fresh and we feel we can trust them, but they are just like MS and Apple, a company who's business it is to make money. In a way their tactics should be alarming to most. Ask yourselves in 20 years when GOOG owns the storage space for all your data how you feel...

    Now to address some falsities in this amateur's blog (see next paragraph for definition of what I mean by amateur).

    Bing is NOT the same thing as Live Search. It's a completely retooled engine. It's like saying Windows 7 is the same thing as Windows 2000 or Win 3.1. Like the countless mob who think the command window in Windows NT onwards is DOS, or that Vista/XP runs on top of DOS because of that. Like users who think putting a button that says Search is all it takes to write a program...

    As a few of you here have hinted perhaps you guys should leave the talk about software design to people who actually understand software works. It's a new interface AND a new engine. Talk about what it does, NOT what you think is under the hood.

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  17. Bing is certainly more attractive while Google is still the market leader. As for now, Microsoft does not even provide reliable tools for webmasters (just recently the webmaster tools area had a faulty 'add new website' finction and it's been like that for 2 weeks or so). The only thing I dislike about Google is pagerank and its speed of indexing backlinks. In both cases there is a lot of space for improvements. Yahoo is getting closer...

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  18. Actually, Bing does not offer anything for Turkey where google is dominant. For example offering a Turkish translation is a great idea.

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  19. Bing has actually been low nowadays, to give an example, i have been running an ad for 4 months now, just one ad infact i even forgot about it.why everytime i checked there was no click at all. i am ready to pay for the clicks but there dont get adequate traffic.i have two on google and they have been sucking my account just after a week now.

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  20. @Xbox Wireless Adapter, this is the main issue with Bing. People simply aren't willing to change their search engine habits, and many have become so accustomed to the Google way of life that they don't need/want to consider any alternative. I think the only way this situation will change is if Google messes up spectacuarly- until that time, advertisers will see far less benefit from any search engine advertising program other than adwords.

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  21. I like Bing's layout and background images. Too bad people are all stuck with Google.

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  22. I like the new approach that Bing is using for their Live Search. It's still very clean but gives it a little bit of color. However, I'm not sure if anything can top Google's search engine though.

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