Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Windows Live - Microsoft's new search engine

[Update 09-Mar-2006] - The Image Search works. Or to put more accurately doesn't work. Just compare the search for "apple cake" with Google Image Search. I really don't see what they were thinking when they claimed to be a worthy competition...
[Update] - After playing a little more with Windows Live I noticed the following:
1. It seems that MSN Search and Windows Live return the same results for all queries. So my guess it they already started merging them into one.
2. There seems to be a significant improvement in the relevance of the results, as compared to MSN Search (in its previous version).
3. It's still too early for me to give an exact opinion and comparison with Google and Yahoo!

A Beta version of Microsoft's new search engine, Windows Live, is now available.
Like most people, I have a set of standard queries I like to try on new search engines, to which I know what to expect. Most of them are image queries, since this is strongly related to my thesis, but unfortunately they don't support image queries yet.
So I tried a web query I like a lot: "ariel shamir". Ariel Shamir is my thesis supervisor, and I like searching his name for the following reasons:
1. He has quite a few publications and should have some kind of footprint on the Internet.
2. His first name, Ariel, is the same as Ariel Sharon the prime minister, and thus many search engines are too much biased by that.
3. His last name, Shamir, is the same as one of our previous prime ministers, Yitzchak Shamir, which incurs yet another (wrong) bias.
4. He is sometimes referred to by his nickname, Arik, adding another level of confusion.

So all'n'all, it's a simple, but tricky query.
Well, here are some results for this simple search:
Windows Live

Some interesting notes about Windows Live's results:
1. Ariel Shamir's actual home page is nowhere to find in the results (at least in the few first tens).
2. Windows Live fell in both pitfalls - the first result is about Ariel Sharon and the second is about Yitzchak Shamir.
3. There are many links to Ariel Shamir's papers and to stuff related to him.
4. Maybe the most annoying of all is the similarity between the results in MSN and in Windows Live. Did they just give it a cool name and an even cooler GUI and leave the engine as is???

To sum up, this is by far not a thorough test, but still a dissapointing one. It leaves me with much less anticipation for the final release of Windows Live than I was before it.

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