At 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.