7 March 2007

Searching for Michael Jordan? Microsoft wants a better way [The New York Times]

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Internet searching was at the forefront of the technologies that Microsoft displayed on Tuesday at an event intended to showcase the company’s research prowess, reports in The New York Times.

“Despite a lack of visible progress in catching up with Google, the leader in Internet search engines, Microsoft says it still believes that it will eventually turn the tables by improving the quality of its search results and by changing the way computer users search.

It is all part of an arms race for search supremacy that has engaged top researchers at both companies.

  • During a morning session for more than 300 visitors at the Microsoft Conference Center, Lili Cheng, a user-interface designer for the Windows Vista operating system, showed off a new service called Mix that will allow Web surfers to organize search results and easily share them.
  • A second tool demonstrated, called Web Assistant, is intended to improve the relevance of search results and help resolve ambiguities in results that, for example, would give a user sites for both Reggie Bush and George Bush. Among other things, the results can be refined based on records of earlier searches by thousands of others and the ways those users changed search terms when they did not get the results they were seeking.
  • Susan Dumais, a veteran Microsoft search expert, has built a tool to help determine relevance called Personalized Search. It pulls together several hundred results and then compares them with the index that Windows users can build of the documents on their hard drives, a feature called Desktop Search.”

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