Microsoft is taking its homegrown engine outta beta and going live today, adding a few neat bells and whistles along the way. I was under embargo till 9 pm tonight, but come on, the NYT is reporting it already.
I can’t offer a reasonable review of the site out of the box, but a list of the new features is at least a start:
– Even more focus on “answers” via Encarta Premium content, which is now free (well, for first use anyway. The engine has added more Encarta content in general).
– Support for RSS search feeds.
– New design, and incorporation into all of MSN, the Messenger IM client, and the MSN Toolbar.
MSFT will be spending some marketing money on promoting its new search engine, I was told in a briefing last week. Let’s hope it’s better than the MSN marketing of past years…
Net net: Watch for Microsoft to start really cranking now that it has a platform upon which to build. (In the Times piece, Gates is quoted: “There is a tremendous opportunity for rapid innovation here…and the great thing about the launch of MSN Search is that we now have a strong platform in place that will enable us to begin to deliver those innovations to consumers.”)
(Also, and aside, I missed this Davos session as I had to leave early, but Gates apparently once again took search as his pitard, then hoisted away. Last year, he said “Google kicked our butt,” this year, it was “We were as stupid as hell.”)
Like Yahoo before it, Microsoft can now embark on its own path, and I expect we’ll see a lot of innovation coming out of Redmond. That’s good for everyone. Welcome to the party (officially), MSFT! Now it gets interesting….