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Microsoft Works on Search Capabilities 480

Posted by michael
from the here-comes-clippy dept.
bl8n8r writes "Microsoft is betting millions that someday it will be as well known for search as Google is. Some of its efforts to simplify search on the Internet will soon be in place. The new version of Microsoft's MSN Internet service, available this winter, will include a tool for retrieving digital photos based on images in the pictures. For example, users can ask their computers to retrieve all pictures that include a specific person's face or background."
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Microsoft Works on Search Capabilities

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  • Image search bots? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:17PM (#7006159) Homepage Journal
    The new version of Microsoft's MSN Internet service, available this winter, will include a tool for retrieving digital photos based on images in the pictures

    Hmmm. Interesting. I have seen a number of new MS bots trolling all over our lab site for the past two months grabbing every image they can.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:18PM (#7006183)
    It's extremely easy to change your search engine. Changing your OS, your office suite, and even your browser, require a lot more effort for normal users. This creates MS's lock-in. But changing your search engine is as easy as typing in a new address (and Google's toolbar makes it even easier for users).

    We've already seen a number of big fluctuations in search engine popularity in the short history of the internet. It's not a matter of what MS does as much as it is a matter of what Google does. If Google keeps their search reliability high, and keeps users happy, few won't feel any need to switch from something they're already comfortable with.
  • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:19PM (#7006194)
    GNU has a very nifty system for searching image content now or "Content Based Image Retrieval System (CBIRS)" as they call it.

    It works much better than I expected.

    I wish I was skilled enough to help out with the project because I think it will become important in the future and now that MS is after the same sort of application you can image what will happen.

    The GIFT (the GNU Image-Finding Tool) [gnu.org]

  • MS search won't work (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa (657393) * <skennedy AT tpno-co DOT org> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:20PM (#7006213) Homepage
    and I will tell you why: This is one of the few fields where quality matters over quantity. The average user, when searching google, wants decent results, not corporate sponsored bullshit.

    You will note the fall of yahoo as an material example.

    Want an example? Go type "linux" into the msn search engine. I'll wait. Now, compare those results with those garnered from google.
  • by CGP314 (672613) <.ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC. .ta. .PGC.> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:23PM (#7006250) Homepage
    But he said better personalization is one way to improve searching. For example, if MSN knows that the computer user searching for "pizza" lives in a specific ZIP code, it can deliver results of pizza places in that ZIP code.

    As much as I hate Microsoft, if they made a good proximity search engine, I would use it all the time. It's one feature I wish google had.
  • Simple strategy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Not_Wiggins (686627) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:25PM (#7006296) Journal
    They can just make it the "default" search in IE.

    I can just see it, too... IE will "accidentally" resolve www.google.com to search.msn.com. And while the lawsuits are going, M$ will claim (as in, for marketing purposes) marketshare as proof that their search is better.

    And when it does come out in the courts some ump-teen years later with Microsoft guilty of uncompetitve practices, Bill will cough up the $300M to google and "fix" the "bug."

    I've seen this history before... I don't expect them to change a winning formula. 8P
  • by JVert (578547) <corganbillyNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:28PM (#7006328) Journal
    If this happens I will personally spider their msdn and rehost it so google can index.

    Frankly I need to get work done and I'm not interested in helping beta testing a microsoft search engine when google already works great.
  • image analysis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrLint (519792) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:29PM (#7006338) Journal
    I really a while back about the army doing automate image analysis feeding a computer pictures in order to identify hidden tanks. It worked great. Sorta.. it turned out that the army, in order to teach it, fed in pictures of tanks hiding in trees. Well the program started to mark as a 'hit' anything with trees in it. As i recall it was abandoned.
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:30PM (#7006345)
    Microsoft is betting millions

    To us mere mortals, that's like betting a $1.00.
  • by presroi (657709) <neubau@presroi.de> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:37PM (#7006439) Homepage
    If I remember correctly, google is doing quite the opposite to a well known hobby called "vapour-ware".

    Tools on the google labs page [google.com]are labeled beta or whatever but they are still much more feature-filled and stable than the competitors' products I am aware of.

    In this case, msn makes this mistake again when they are publishing some features which "will be" doing foo or bar some day.

    Of course, an advanced picture search is nice and it might lead into more results than images.google.com but the main difference is that images.google.com is real.

    The topic was "Microsoft Works on Search Capabilities" which is a correct headline. The rest was redundant.

    (did anyone make an obligaroty "Microsoft Works"-joke regarding to the topic yet?")

    The only thing I can see from Microsoft when it comes to search engines are logfile entries like:
    tide85.microsoft.com - - [13/Mar/2003:14:31:31 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.0" 304 - "-"
    "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0) Fetch API Request"
    or
    tide72.microsoft.com - - [23/Jul/2003:11:59:29 +0200] "GET /hfaq/news/../todo.ht
    ml HTTP/1.0" 200 1709 "-" "lwp-trivial/1.36"
    tide83.microsoft.com - - [01/Aug/2003:02:20:02 +0200] "HEAD /hfaq/stats/stat2002
    08.html; HTTP/1.0" 404 0 "-" "libwww-perl/5.65"
    and this (several hundred times):
    tide108.microsoft.com - - [18/Aug/2003:08:19:26 +0200] "HEAD /hfaq/hfaq6400.html
    HTTP/1.0" 200 0 "-" "LWP::Simple/5.68"
    tide108.microsoft.com - - [18/Aug/2003:08:19:26 +0200] "GET /hfaq/hfaq6400.html
    HTTP/1.0" 200 2417 "-" "lwp-trivial/1.36"
    tide107.microsoft.com - - [18/Aug/2003:08:19:27 +0200] "HEAD /hfaq/links.html HT
    TP/1.0" 200 0 "-" "LWP::Simple/5.68"
    and finally
    tide72.microsoft.com - - [06/Sep/2003:05:02:14 +0200] "GET /daily/2003/04/200304
    14-02.png HTTP/1.0" 304 - "http://www.presroi.de/daily/2003/04/20030414.html " "M
    ozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.
    1.4322)"
    tide72.microsoft.com - - [06/Sep/2003:14:14:37 +0200] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.0"
    200 62 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT; MS Search 4.0 Robot)
    "
  • by Henry Stern (30869) <henry@stern.ca> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:38PM (#7006450) Homepage
    Microsoft. Search [microsoft.com] experts [microsoft.com].

    What's done in the lab and what can actually be sold are very different things. The senior information retrieval researchers at MSR are *smart* people.

    I had the opportunity to hear Susan Dumais' talk on "Stuff I've Seen" at SIGIR this year. SIS is a really interesting piece of software, a personal search engine. Every e-mail you send or receive, every file you create is fed into a search engine residing on your PC. You can then search for things by date, keyword, etc. and easily locate exactly what you're looking for.

    Yeah, great search interface! Really inspires my confidence!

    If anyone can topple Google, they can.
  • Re:Whoa! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dustmote (572761) <fleck55&hotmail,com> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:40PM (#7006488) Homepage Journal
    Would this enable people to find porn that strongly resembles people you know? Just put a picture of them in and do a search through vast porn archives until you have a decent match for facial features? This could give creepy stalkerism a whole new level of creepiness.
  • by krahd (106540) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:41PM (#7006497) Homepage Journal
    is to whistle a song to the mic and having Google give me some mp3 with that tune...

    --krahd

    mod me up, scottie!
  • by sixteenraisins (67316) <william.purpleandblack@com> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:42PM (#7006510) Homepage
    ...can you be more SPACIFIC? Exactly *how* is the MSN search flaky?...few people here would require you back it up with (gasp) facts


    Fine.

    To be more "SPACIFIC" (sic), my search results from MSN tend to include dozens (if not more) of "search" sites - pages set up with hundreds of keywords or squatted domain names designed to get hits and redirect you to some type of SPAM site. Yahoo! is starting to get this way as well, although the problem is not as prevalent as it is with MSN.com. I rarely see this happen in a Google-found site.

    There ya go. Facts.

    It's easy to just rattle off the standard anti-M$ line (and get "insightful")...

    Just for good measure, my comments were about the MSN portal; I have no problem using other Microsoft products.

    And to everyone who was more congenial about my "sputtering," my sincere apologies.

    William
  • by wonkamaster (599507) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:49PM (#7006577)
    Want an example? Go type "linux" into the msn search engine. I'll wait. Now, compare those results with those garnered from google.
    That's funny! What's great is the fourth option, which provides alternatives to Linux... even before the search engine has provided you results on Linux.

    Now take it a step further and search on "black people ebay". Google [google.com] results start off by providing links to items offered by black people and about racism. MSN [msn.com] results start off by advertising that it will sell you black people on E-bay (as well as their related items).

    I wonder how long before they fix that little problem!
  • Nutch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greenskyx (609089) on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:50PM (#7006584)
    Has anyone seen nutch? It looks pretty interesting. "Nutch provides a transparent alternative to commercial web search engines. Only open source search results can be fully trusted to be without bias. (Or at least their bias is public.)"

    Take a look here: here [nutch.org]
  • Re:uh right... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sgt York (591446) <jvolm@eaCOFFEErthlink.net minus caffeine> on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:56PM (#7006645)
    Feel and interface are subjective. Some may like Explorer due to its familiarity and simplicity, I agree, but I personally don't like it very much.

    My favorite browser is Opera...mouse gestures, tabbed browsing, threading, well done popup blocking, and did I mention mouse gestures?. Not that it's the only browser with some of those, but it is very fast and low on bloat. And I think it's the only one with the gestures. Not to mention the M2 mail client is really nice (once you sit down and get used to it). You just gotta know beforehand that not all pages load well. But in my browsing experience, 90% of the pages I visit have no difficulty. Most of the 10% have only minor formatting problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2003 @02:58PM (#7006668)
    Try searching for c#

    At least until a month ago, # was not indexed.
  • Re:uh right... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhoenixFlare (319467) on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:00PM (#7006694) Journal
    While IE may have holes, the interface and the feel is far superior than anything else out there

    Uhmm...Yeah, that's why IE's java and ActiveX support permanently and completely broke for no reason on my machine. Not even a total reinstall of Windows, Java and IE fixed it. I can't even use Windows Update with it, to say nothing of other sites using Java and such.

    Sure is an awesome interface, when the majority of the sites I visit won't even display properly (if at all). There's no error dialog, no half-loaded script, nothing at all to help me figure out what's wrong- most of the UI seems to be built around glossing over errors as much as possible.

    On top of that, there's no built-in support for pop-up blocking, there's at least a security hole or two almost every week, and just generally feels old and busted.

    I've been using Firebird for the better part of a year now, and I couldn't be happier. It may not be perfect, but at least everything works, it feels fast and slick, and keeps junk out of my way while i'm surfing.

    IE hasn't won anything...Most people just don't know there's any alternatives out there.
  • No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dswensen (252552) on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:01PM (#7006699) Homepage
    Long story short, Microsoft has far too much of an agenda to allow objective searches, and everyone knows it. There's no way I would ever depend on Microsoft's search engine to deliver reliable results about Linux, open source, the GPL, or anything else that MS is "competing" with. And neither would many of the millions of tech-savvy people who use Google every day.

    That and the fact that a big part of Google's draw is its simplicity, in that you don't get 120K of "how would you like to buy some crap?" banners before you get to your search results. Microsoft doesn't have the restraint or the finesse to pull that off, either. They could -- but they won't. Not when the almighty dollar is at stake, which is all MS cares about.

    So they might be able to sell it to the mom and pop users who have no clue, but replace Google? No. Anyone who knows anything about MS or Google won't go for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:02PM (#7006710)
    Good for them. Google needs some competition. The quality of their search engine is declining rapidly, as many people have "cracked the code" so to speak.

    Try looking for car part vendors online, for instance. Or just about anything. The search engine spammers have won.
  • by realdpk (116490) on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:08PM (#7006756) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but this is what we all want to see:

    Well, all but the Mozilla users of course... [msn.com]
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:36PM (#7007065) Journal
    One time I entered msdn.microsoft.com coming from a google search and a survey popped up asking me why I decided to use the google search instead of microsoft's built in search along with other search related questions.
  • by panaceaa (205396) on Friday September 19, 2003 @03:53PM (#7007247) Homepage Journal
    I doubt it. I know a couple people that work at MS, and they personally use Google to search MSDN. I hear it's very commonplace there and no one really frowns on it because MSDN's search sucks. If they prevented Google from spidering MSDN, Microsoft's own developers would lose massive productivity. One of my MS friends said "he wished he could Google inside Microsoft," because their intranet search sucks too.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday September 19, 2003 @04:12PM (#7007449)
    There actually ARE good competitors to Google. Check out Teoma [teoma.com] for one. They've been called Googles biggest competition for quite some time now in all the search industry rags.
  • MSN's Nasty Tactics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davinciII (469750) on Friday September 19, 2003 @05:13PM (#7008024)
    Let's preface this by saying that I am not anti-MS. I even formerly have used MSNs page as my home page. I like the fun stories, etc.

    About 2 months ago, Microsoft decided that the MSN search box would steal focus from anything in the browser. Want to type in a URL in the address bar while the page is loading? Helfway through it steals focus and the URL is jacked up.

    I use the Google toolbar, and even when I'm typing a search term in there, MSN steals focus and redirects my keystrokes to their search box.

    I found this new "feature" to be som completely intrusive that I left MSN as a home page. And I'm not going back.

    The sad part is that this has been happening for 2 months, and I've never heard anyone else complain.
  • MSN Search won't fly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday September 19, 2003 @10:39PM (#7009906) Homepage

    MSN Search won't replace Google for one reason: MS is constitutionally incapable of leaving their own interests, financial and otherwise, out of the results. People prefer one search engine over another mainly based on whether it returns accurate, unbiased, relevant results, and keeps the paid-for stuff out of the way of the actual results. MS won't be able to resist trying to "improve" things by putting the paid-for listings in with the results (where they're more likely to be clicked on, and therefore more valuable to Microsoft because they can be sold for a higher price), biasing the results in favor of their own sites (which would result in increased value for Microsoft for those sites) and so on. Given alternatives, people will tend to migrate towards the one that gives priority to their interests and away from the one that considers their interests secondary.

You can observe a lot just by watching. -- Yogi Berra

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