Taking a Look at Microsoft’s Live Search

Last week, Microsoft’s Live Search (as opposed to the I’m-Not-Dead-I’m-Getting-Better” search) announced a new version, so I moseyed over to give it a test drive.

The search URL, of course, is . Changes that aren’t overtly obvious include a quadrupling of the index (though I didn’t see solid numbers in the press release) and some changes in algorithms and query refinements. The search interface on the home page is still admirably minimalist.

I did a search for Hawaii. I got something over 215 million results (as opposed to about 162 million for Google) with as the first search result. (, Hawaii’s official tourism site, is Google’s first result.) On the other hand, a search for “obey the toaster” on Live got 89 results, and 284 results on Google.

I liked the way Live handled questions. Why is the sky blue? brought a page full of relevant answers, from a variety of sources. This search does get you some suggested searches which I found weird, like “Who Is San Lorenzo Ruiz” (And THAT search leads to the suggested search What Is Nanotechnology so I think we can announce Live suggested searches Officially Wacky.)

Live does offer some of what they call Rich Answers. Searching for Elvis Presley, for examples, provides several images, a link to a celebrity index, and some music information. I find myself however preferring Ask’s Smart Answer, which had more immediate biographical information and more multimedia up front (though not as much musical information.)

I find the new improved Live search a perfectly good search engine that handles questions really well, but there was nothing here that grabbed me and really made me want to start using it more.

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