REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 26, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. is releasing an update to Live Search (http://www.live.com) centered on improvements to core search technology and deeper advancements in the vertical search areas of entertainment, shopping, local and health. Collectively, these improvements mark a quality milestone based on the company’s focus on delivering a better search experience for consumers and advertisers.
“With this update to Live Search, our engineering focus is on the areas that matter most to our 185 million consumers who use our service every month. We have made dramatic progress in delivering a better search experience to our customers,” said Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of the Search and Advertising Platform Group at Microsoft. “We know what kinds of things consumers are searching for, and we have invested in those key high-interest verticals, including entertainment, shopping, health and local search. With the core platform in place we intend to win customers and earn their loyalty one query at a time.”
The majority of Live Search customer feedback has focused on improving overall search relevance to deliver richer and deeper results and investing in differentiated experiences in high-interest consumer areas such as entertainment, shopping, health and local search.
Richer and Deeper Results
Microsoft’s efforts toward satisfying its Live Search customers can be grouped into a few key areas:
Over fourfold increase in index size. Nearly 20 percent of customer challenges came from the long tail of the Web, indicating a need for broader coverage to help ensure that the right results can be returned for the highest percentage of queries. The new Live Search has exceeded the goal of quadrupling its range of coverage, setting a foundation that will enable it continue to keep pace with the growth of the Web.
Substantial improvements in understanding queryintent. The new Live Search does a much better job in predicting the intent of the query to return the best results possible. New investments improve the search service’s ability to read and understand queries in a way that more accurately determines intent despite common problems such as spelling errors, stop words, punctuation and synonyms.
Significant enhancements to core algorithms.The new Live Search has incorporated more user click-stream data to inform ranking and relevancy processes, yielding more relevant results across queries.
Increased focus on query refinement. Intelligence in the back end designed to help customers arrive at improved query suggestions helps Live Search deliver the best results, even making proactive changes to the query in cases where the engine is confident of the customer’s intent.
New Web data extraction model. Core search innovation enables Microsoft to build rich vertical experiences that update on the fly. This technology extracts information from across the Web on products (including ratings and reviews); businesses (including locations, contact information, photos, hours of operation, ratings and reviews); celebrities (including buzz, images and videos); and more.
Expansion of Rich Answers. Based on user feedback that sometimes people are just looking for a specific fact or answer, Live Search’s improved Answers platform provides specialized responses to queries about specific areas such as weather, images, celebrities and entertainment, sports, stocks, Yellow Pages, maps or quick facts from Encarta®. This specialized content has been more deeply integrated into the main search experience to add to custom searches such as images and mapping.
Additional improvements to the service include a new, cleaner user interface that makes the results pages easier to read and use; a more robust Answers platform that provides instant access to information from trusted sources while increasing relevancy; and organization of results pages based on the high-interest search verticals of entertainment, shopping, local and health on one page.
With up to 40 percent of searches falling into the categories of entertainment, shopping, health and local search, the new Live Search has made deep investments to deliver specialized content presented in a compelling way across these key vertical search areas:
Entertainment. Helps customers stay informed on the latest entertainment news with celebrity instant answers accompanied by images and a new video search feature that offers smart motion previews, facts and buzz and new xRank celebrity ranking.
Shopping. Helps customers easily find and discover products along with reviews, guides, prices and other relevant information.
Health. New health search functionality intuitively organizes and surfaces the most relevant online health content from trusted sources, allowing consumers to refine searches faster and with more accuracy.
Local. Allows customers to search local business listings for help with making informed decisions based on rich details and reviews.
With improvements across the core search experience and infrastructure as well as new experiences and specialized content in key, high-interest vertical areas, the new Live Search puts in place a platform that enables Microsoft to keep pace with customer demand and continue to deliver new and innovative search experiences across a range of scenarios and devices. An early example of these new experiences is the mobile search client, a Software plus Services implementation for the mobile phone that puts the power of the Live Search service in the palm of the hand. Speech-based search combines powerful speech-recognition software on the mobile phone with the Live Search service over the Internet. There is still plenty of room for innovation, and Live Search is well poised to lead in this arena.
More information on these updates is available from the Live Search fact sheet and the Live Search team blog, located respectively at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/factsheet/LiveSearchFS.mspx and http://livesearch.spaces.live.com.
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN® attracts more than 465 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live™, a comprehensive set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. Windows Live and Live Search are available at http://www.live.com; MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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