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What, exactly, is MS doing?

"We do view Google more and more as a competitor. We believe that we can provide consumers with a better product and a better user experience. That's something that we're actively looking at doing," Bob Visse, director of marketing for Microsoft's MSN Internet services division, said.

This is from the company whose web search engine is so useless that many people use Google to search their site? Google is clean, fast, just plain works, and is free. Why would MS even try?


Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Well, because MS has a lot of cash to keep throwing stuff at competition until the competition has run out of cash.

They have tried to ramrod MSN down people's throats ever since they decided AOL was a threat.

MS wants to be a diversified monopoly, even though all they've got that actually makes money is Windows and Office. 

flamebait sr.
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Sounds like there's some hiring to be done for those that understand how to index a database.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Microsoft spends billions a year on software R&D, some of it quite "pure".  It makes sense they'd try to commercialize some of this work, if it fits.  Perhaps that ties into this story.

My guess would be that the article in question has way overblown the situation based on a single comment from one guy at Microsoft to position it as a clash-of-the-titans (Microsoft vs Google) deal when it is really something minor going on at Microsoft that just happens to overlap Google's bread and butter.

George McBay
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

What google is doing is so advanced and huge and weird that it's seems beyond the everyday db wizards. But yeah sure send Microsoft a resume :-)

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

We'll probably just have to wait and see, but I don't understand why MS thinks that they and Google are in the same business.  As was said above, MS's web search is worse than useless - I can't tell you how many times I have entered an aticle's "Q" id, only to have the search fail.  Without googling with "", you would be SOL.

But note that it was someone from the MSN division.  They've been heavily advertising MSN 8, and I guess they are looking to add value to it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Depress the price of Overture and then buy it out. I think Google is close to its peak. An MS or AOL combination with Overture and the renewed Yahoo/Inktomi should present Google with stiff competition. Search engines don't have particularly defensible positions considering that browsers (and portals) have demonstrated no resistance to switching search providers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

MS just wants to own the web, that's all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

"so advanced and huge and weird that it's seems beyond the everyday"

Boy I'm with you on that one Chen. -- like it completely does all this using some algorithm? Dang! Stand back and get out of their way! And it's free too? Holy cow! And they're not the government taxing us to pay for it? What is going on here? They must be run by space aliens.

Tony Chang
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Actually the news bit was ONE person's idea.

read more abt it:

Prakash S
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

I'd assume that Google is set as many people's browser home page. Microsoft would like that to be MSN. Advanced search technology is also going to be important for Longhorn, with its new file system.

John Topley
Thursday, April 3, 2003

You mean MS is going to have full indexing of every file on all your disks, allowing for google-like instant searches of all your files, ranked by relevance?

Wow, so they are finally catching up with what has been free with Apple computers since system 8.6 came out several years ago...

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Actually, they've had that since Windows 2000.

John Topley
Thursday, April 3, 2003

I think MSN really fail to understand why Google is homepage for so many people.

When MSN is the homepage (the default) it takes minutes for the browser to load, because MSN is so fat.

With Google as the homepage, it takes a few seconds.  Lean and mean.

I think the big advantage Google has over so many other portals is that they're thinking 'tool' while everybody else is thinking 'media'

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 3, 2003

My homepage is about:blank. And I think that one is too slow.

Thomas Eyde
Thursday, April 3, 2003

Me too!

That's not a very helpful comment I know. Does anyone know why it _is_ so slow?

Thursday, April 3, 2003

I have to agree with what Ged said.

But still... I do believe that a significant percentage of the population want a "cool looking" internet (probably those people entering "" in Google to get to Amazon). This is something I personally don't want/need, but our contemporary culture is very impressed with surface features and I'm sure there are people who use MSN search over Google because "Google doesn't look cool enough".

A few things will happen to resolve this:

(1) Those people who "don't get it" (it's a tool, not something that needs to be cool) will "get it"; this goes contrary to so much other media that I don't think it'll happen (yes, I agree the media analogy is kinda broken, but these people are still trying to come to terms with the internet from a media perspective).

(2) Google will hire 37 Signals and Eric Meyer (or similar) to come up with an ultra-light weight, ultra-nice looking CSS/XHTML UI. The "this ain't cool" school will jump on board. Cool looking standards compliant web design will get another boost (to go along with Wired and ESPN).

(3) Microsoft will produce a "good enough" compromise. A fast loading, cool looking, relatively accurate search engine/portal which is about 70% as accurate/helpful/on-the-money as Google. People will switch to MSN.

I'd guess the ordered likelihood of the above is (2), (3), (1).

Walter Rumsby
Thursday, April 3, 2003


"Skinnable Google!!!"


Thursday, April 3, 2003

Remember, this is coming from the MSN people. MSN people tend to view the web like AOL does. That is, if you're an MSN subscriber they desperately want you to only view MSN sites and not stray off onto non-MSN sites (like google). So it only makes sense that they would want to enhance MSN to include, basically, all the useful functionality of the web.

If you're not an MSN subscriber, well, first they want to make you one. But if you refuse that, then they don't really care about you.

MSN isn't trying to create a google killer to attract non-MSN subscribing web users to their search engine. It's trying to keep MSN subscribers from going to non-MSN sites.

Bill Tomlinson
Thursday, April 3, 2003

If MS present better search results I think the battle is pretty much over. It's not easy but there are lots of areas to explore; relevance and context, adapting results to the users knowledge level, using documents from the users pc to understand him/her better, translations to create a bigger index for each language and on and on. Web search is, as far as I can tell, only in its infancy.

Rikard Linde
Thursday, April 3, 2003

Search is a big thing. Not only in the discovery of new pages, but a lot of people just do not bother with saving or bookmarking, and just search again.
What is important is the ranking bit, not the indexing. MS has had world class indexing since ages, but their ranking is not up to Google's.
Who cares you can find pages containing the word "snot", your only going to skim the title of the first 40 max.
Who controls ranking has a major impact on access and associated revenu. Right now that is Google. I'm sure MS is not the only one that would like a piece of that.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, April 3, 2003

I'm reminded of a Richelieu quote:

"No state is immortal.  Its salvation is in the here and now."

Everyone thought IBM was unstoppable too.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Off topic, I know, but to the guys that say about:home is too slow, and assuming that you are using Internet Explorer, change the shortcut that launches IE to pass it the '-nohome' argument (for example: "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe -nohome") - it's a LOT faster.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Ged wrote:

>When MSN is the homepage (the default) it >takes minutes for the browser to load, >because MSN is so fat.

Of course, this could be fixed by embedding the MSN homepage into Windows along with the browser ;-)

Isaac Morland
Thursday, April 3, 2003

thanks for the IE -nohome tip. It actually seems to work!

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Microsoft won't be able to do it.
Much of the appeal of google is the integrity of the search. They are very clear about keeping sponsored links and advertising separate from the search results. Unless there is a drastic change in the culture at microsoft they will not be able to resist using a popular search tool to further their marketing aims. You won't be able to get results that are not tinkered with in microsoft's favor and as a result it will be difficult to find what you are looking for--unless, of course, you are searching for a service microsoft offers. If you go to google and search for "internet service provider" MSN is nowhere to be found in the first few pages other than the sponsored links. Will Microsoft let this stand in their own search service? Go to and type "internet service provider" in the search box. Six of the first fifteen are for including their 'top pick.'

Friday, April 4, 2003

MS is doing what they've always done historically...

They are hungry they want [your/fill in the blank] lunch money.

If you don't hand it over, they're going to beat you up.

Ken Anthony
Friday, April 4, 2003

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