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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How Alive is Microsoft's Live?

Microsoft (MSFT) is now allowing search users to harness the power of Live Search to find, customize and track news, images, video, RSS feeds and blogs from all over the Internet.

The site should be easy enough to remember: www.Live.com

Unfortunately this may be just another version of being late to the party, but it will be all over the news any way. The company late Monday said it is releasing a from beta into a formal launch its Live Search and its Live.com in 47 markets worldwide. The features will also have the availability of a Live Local Search in the U.S. and U.K. markets. This is powered on MSN, its media and entertainment portal.

"The launch of Live Search is a significant milestone for our services business, with our core search and monetization platform ready for prime time for MSN and Windows Live(TM) as well as for partners through syndication deals," said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of Live Search at Microsoft. "We now have the base to weave search through our services in ways that bring value to customers. This is just the beginning. We look forward to continued investment in search to deliver services that bring new levels of control and personalization to the Web experience."

These Windows Live milestones are said to represent "the first of several more to come this fall" that will demonstrate Microsoft's commitment to building and delivering services that bring new levels of control and personalization to the Web experience.

The one aspect here is that this Live Local Search will offer increased avaliablity of "bird's-eye imagery," improved mobile integration and functionality. This imagery is the same that Microsoft has been using for clearer images than Google Earth from the satellites as Microsoft hired planes to fly over all major metro areas taking aerial photos to give a clearer picture.

Microsoft had been far behind Google (GOOG) on this, which had gone without saying. Microsoft claims some 465 million unique users users per month worldwide. Google is still going to be the default defacto search used by many, and Microsoft has more of a trust issue than other online search and software companies. Its search had also been behind Yahoo! (YHOO), but now it may be equal or slightly ahead and behind in areas depending on user preferences. With MySpace now using Google, this may even be just deemed as another me-too product launch. Either way, they will not be catapulted into a number one position. Much of this comes down to basic search preferences.

This is not meant that Microsoft will be punished for this, but outside of the mapping it may just be deemed yet another offering with no key advantages.

The one thing that really comes to mind immediately is that the real winner in all of this search war and pure personalization of the web is probably going to come down to who can most easily and effortlessly integrate all of the new web "widgets" (basic custom and personal web applications) in a fast and safe manner. The verdict is definitely still out in that respect.

Jon C. Ogg
September 12, 2006
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