I seldom feature any Live Search update in the blog because the product seems slow in terms of providing new things to talk about. For those uninformed, Live Search is the latest name change/brand exercise of the search engine once popularly known as MSN Search.
Finally there is something to talk about the latest reincarnation of this Microsoft product. Its blog recently announced that a major update is taking place for the first time since January of 2005, when the search engine made its debut.
The major focus with this update are the following (according to their post):
- Relevance, relevance, relevance. We’ve quadrupled the size of our index, which means we can return the right results for your searches. Improvements like enhanced ranking algorithms, auto-spell correction and better stop word handling help us return the best results.
- Speed. Pages load much faster than before.
- Streamlined look and feel. We focused on the end-to-end experience from the homepage throughout the site. For example, search results are now easier to read thanks to work on typography, contrast, colors and spacing.
- More high-interest content. You asked us for more in Entertainment, Shopping, Health, Local and Video search and we’re happy to deliver it.
With the amount of additional features and enhancements, this is indeed huge to me.
Updated Search Features
Live Search Video, powered by a new in-house video search technology, allows users to search for and browse online video content, and watch high-quality videos from the Web. With a new smart motion preview feature, consumers can now preview video within the search results by rolling over the thumbnail of the video.
Live Search Local allows consumers to search local business listings, helping them make more informed decisions with rich business details and reviews, all within Live Search.
Live Search Image has increased the image index and changed its user interface. With this increase, consumers are now able to search across millions of images and receive precise results with smart scroll, thumbnail image-sizing customization, filmstrip view and the ability to see the full image without leaving the results page.
Live Search Products helps consumers easily find and discover products, reviews, guides, prices and other relevant information — all within the Live Search interface, giving them confidence in their buying decisions. User reviews at a glance, powered by our new Opinion Index technology, summarizes the sentiment of the Web about a product, which can save consumers both the time and hassle of combing through multiple Web sites for this information.
Live Search Health helps consumers refine health searches quickly using related medical concepts to get relevant health information from a broad spectrum of perspectives, and helps them navigate complex topics with inline article results from experts like the Mayo Clinic — all on a single page.
Live Search Entertainment helps consumers stay informed of the latest entertainment news with inline celebrity answers accompanied by images, video, facts and buzz. In addition, Live Search’s new xRank feature allows consumers to find out how their favorite celebrities rank in regard to total Web searches via a daily updated ranking.
Live Search Instant Answers provides answers to questions at the top of the algorithmic results, so consumers spend less time searching for the information they need. Several new and updated Instant Answer features include Live Search traffic, weather, maps, entertainment, news, product, stocks and health.
Live Search Maps updates in the coming months will include a new user interface, better ways to map local business listings, and quicker, more accurate directions with better printing features.
Additional Search Features
Live Search Scopes allow people to see search results from Web pages, local maps and directions, images, videos, and more without the need to re-enter the same query each time or to leave the page.
Live Search Toolbar provides access to the Live Search platform from any Web page.
Live Search Academic allows consumers to search through academic information and journals, including computer science, engineering and physics journals.
Live Search Books is advancing the way people search online by digitizing and indexing information from printed material from around the world, representing another step forward in Microsoft’s efforts to precisely answer people’s questions with trusted content from the best possible sources.
Live Search QnA brings a community of real people into the search experience that can help answer a consumer’s toughest questions. Live Search QnA enables consumers to ask and answer questions to further the social networking experience at Live.com.
Live Search Macros is a powerful tool that allows consumers to create their own custom search engines or use customizations created by others who share their interests to make their searches more relevant.
For folks who are more curious about this, Microsoft provides a fact sheet for more information.
No beta version, no selected markets to test the updates, that’s how confident folks from Microsoft are with this update. And why not, this is an update that is long overdue, in light of the multiple strides made by Google (which recently introduces search in its Google Reader product) and Yahoo! (which recently made another update).