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Microsoft Opens EMEA Search Technology

  • Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Microsoft

By Mike Davis, senior analyst at Ovum

In its continuing efforts to displace Google as the default Internet search engine, Microsoft has been making incremental improvements to its Live Search offering, and to support this it has created a Search Technology Centre in EMEA to recognise and exploit the differences between the North American and EMEA markets. The company believes that search is still in its infancy and these EMEA initiatives are intended to help it grow more quickly, both in terms of market share and maturity.

There is a lot of money to be made

The market for search-derived transactions and advertising for EMEA is predicted to be $10.8 billion in 2011; Microsoft wants a lot of that, and is doing a lot to see that it gets it.

Users of Live Search, its ‘gateway to the Web’, will have noticed that the user interface (UI) has become cleaner, with a greater range of information returned from a search term, and with single-click options to refine and filter the results. For example, a search for a city will return not only references to documents, and of course ‘relevant’ placed advertisements, but also images and even the current weather.

It also has ‘nice’ options such as price prediction for hotel rooms and the previously announced Cashback for purchases made through Live Search – although these are currently only available in the US.

These changes have been brought in gradually, with approximately monthly updates and extensive user testing before implementation. In Live Search Microsoft is now exploiting both the technologies and the development skills that it gained through its recent EMEA acquisitions of Multimap, Fast Search & Transfer and Ciao.

The company believes that search ‘is in its infancy’ with lots of innovation still to come, which will be the way it gets a big chunk of the $10.8 billion. It states that Live Search has four key tasks:

· delivering the best search results
· simplifying key tasks
· innovating the business model
· utilising the network.

It will use the Search Technology Centre (STC) in EMEA, which was officially launched on 2 October 2008, to support the innovation.

The STC comprises three centres of excellence, with teams based in Paris, London and Munich, and is a recognition that the World, and the Web, is not a homogenous English-speaking environment – although the lessons learnt in the STC in EMEA will support Live Search deployments worldwide.

Business users should benefit

Whilst Live Search will primarily make its money from and is pitched at the consumer market, just like Google, the successful UI lessons learnt will pass into the enterprise offerings; Microsoft wants Live Search to be the engine of choice in the office as well, i.e. ahead of Google in both environments. This means that arguably we now have two teams of the brightest developers competing on behalf of their companies for the Internet search crown, and that competition should benefit us all. /PR

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