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MSFT Hints at Future Search Strategy

By - May 26, 2004

msoft1.jpgAt the Goldman Sachs internet conference today in Las Vegas, MSN search chief Yusuf Mehdi let slip some of MSFT’s plans with regard to search. How do I know he let slip? Well, far as I knew, this stuff was not to be disclosed for quite a while (recall that I was briefed recently by MSFT, on background, for my book).

The news: Microsoft will be including a pretty significant local PC search function as part of its upcoming beta. Mehdi also mentioned that personalized search will be a significant focus going forward, and that MSFT is looking at integrating ads into mail a la Gmail.

From the AP story (Link to an edited version):

SEATTLE (AP) – Microsoft Corp. will soon release technology that takes search functions far beyond the Internet, allowing users to pour through e-mails, personal computers and even big databases to find the information they want, a top executive said Wednesday.

The system being developed by Microsoft’s MSN online division “will, as far as the consumer is concerned, be an end-to-end system for searching across any data type,” Yusuf Mehdi, head of Microsoft’s MSN division, told analysts at a Goldman Sachs Internet conference in Las Vegas Wednesday. The speech was broadcast over the Internet.

The new technology would be a huge step forward for users trying to grapple with an increasing amount of digital information, offering a one-step system instead of having to use several different search engines, file management systems or other tools.

Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which is on 90 percent of personal computers, provides tools for file management on PCs. But Mehdi conceded there really isn’t a quick system for searching.

“I think it’s fair to say that we will tackle all of the things that you expect, including PC search, as part of the MSN effort,” Mehdi said.

Mehdi said Microsoft plans to release an early version of the technology soon, as part of the software giant’s push to compete with Internet search leader Google Inc. A final version is expected in the next 12 months, he said.


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13 thoughts on “MSFT Hints at Future Search Strategy

  1. pb says:

    Yawn. Time to search the web: 0.7 seconds. Time to search my hard drive: 39 seconds. Is there *any* chance that Microsoft can get search right?

  2. Brad King says:

    yep, it’s called Longhorn WinFS. I would not underestimate MS, personally. The mantra of observe->copy->improve->consume and crush seems to work well for them.

  3. pb says:

    Other than the browser, has Microsoft crushed anything in the last 20 years?

  4. Brad King says:

    Borland
    Lotus
    SyBase
    WordPerfect
    how many do you want ?

  5. pb says:

    Sybase might qualify. It was relevant as recently as 10 years ago. But it and Informix were pretty distant 2 and 3 behind Oracle (which Microsoft is hardly crushing).

    Keep trying.

  6. Brad King says:

    Honestly, I think you are ignoring the obvious here, for whatever reason. I learned C++ on Turbo C++. That was a killer dev environment, but Visual C++ crushed (and I mean crushed) them.

    Certainly you are right, SQL server is not crushing Oracle. Look at the accelleration in market share for MS since they got into the db business though. I’m sure Larry Ellison isn’t counting them out. Watch how quickly SQL Reporting Services is adopted vs. Crystal Reports by this time next year.

    Like it or not, it’s a pattern. I guess we’ll see how search plays out, but MS will be a contender. You don’t get 50 Billion in cash the bank by doing everything wrong.

  7. pb says:

    Microsoft was lucky with DOS and smart with Office. Everything else has fed off that.

    Microsoft has really done nothing impressive on the web other than Expedia.

    Having witnessed MSN Search, Windows Search and Outlook/Exchange Search, I continue to have little faith in Microsoft’s ability to do search.

  8. Sarnaa says:

    In response to Brad King:

    MS SQL seems to be filling the space that Oracle ignores in terms of size requirements, by providing a *somewhat* robust RDBMS environment for both SMB’s and workgroups in large enterprises. I estimate that in a couple years Oracle will have a product out that competes with MSSQL in the SMB market.

    Knowing Larry Ellison they’ll probably try to host it!

  9. pb says:

    MySQL competes very effectively there as well.

  10. TrickyDisco says:

    Lets take a 50,000ft view of this, and then yes you can see where Brad is comming from. Locally yes they are fighting on many fronts, some with more success than others. This is a well documented and lets hope the discussions prevail.

    Where is web search, still in its early childhood!!

    Try a search for – hat – on Google (top algo result is a dvd???) I only wanted a hat!! Come on forget the current hype, reset your expectations and realise that they’ve only just scratched the surface. As to Microsoft actually comming up with a decent search solution? Well when senior execs admit a strategic mistake, would they in fact come out with such a statement in the first pace, with the full knowledge that they are holding the answer already. My guess is probably somewhere inbetween.

  11. jukers says:

    not intending to steer too far afield from the software industry, but the same exact principles for microsoft today held true in the eighties for sony and other japanese manufacturers in the consumer electronics trade.

    ge, rca, zenith, magnavox, and the american public, in general, laughed at the japanese as copy-cat pretenders for color television sets. now look at who owns the most market share for tv’s in the u.s.

  12. UK-MA says:

    not intending to steer too far afield from the software industry, but the same exact principles for microsoft today held true in the eighties for sony and other japanese manufacturers in the consumer electronics trade.

  13. Time to search the web: 0.7 seconds. Time to search my hard drive: 39 seconds. Is there *any* chance that Microsoft can get search right??