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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

March 7, 2006 at 4:09 PM

What MSN Search is announcing

Microsoft announced today a number of changes to the way people can use Web search, and it plans to add the changes in test form to its Live.com page by the end of the day. Here’s a quick rundown:

— Cleaner, sparser look. The search categories (Web, desktop, news, etc.) are now in tabs at the top of the Web page instead of right above the search box.

— See the results without clicking on them. Hovering over a result will show a snapshot of it in a separate window. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t automatically show what you searched for in that snapshot. You have to type your query again in a drop-down box to find the relevant part of the page.

— Customize the number of results you see on a page. Fewer results means they’ll appear bigger and be easier to read.

— Capping the results at 250, because no one wants to go through 2.4 million results. But the 250 that Microsoft shows had better be the most relevant possible, and there are still questions about how well the search engine hits the mark in terms of relevancy.

— There’s also a new toolbar using technology from Onfolio, a Cambridge, Mass. company Microsoft has acquired. Onfolio has a product tour on its Web site that shows more; basically, it can collect things you see online and store them, publish them to a blog or send them in an e-mail.

One analyst I talked to said this probably won’t do a whole lot in terms of moving the market share needle. But Microsoft is trying to differentiate its search engine from Google and others.

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