Microsoft fights back against the dominance of Google in the search-engine market with its new-look, pared-down search page.
Although Search.msn.com is still powered by Yahoo! Technology, it has been "cleaned-up" by eliminating paid inclusion and separating so called algorithmic results from paid results.
This means that paid-for results do not automatically appear when users type in a query, which brings the service closer to the kind of free, non-commercial results that rivals like Google generate.
MSN also claims that the relevancy of results has improved by 45 per cent, again, bringing it up to par with market leader Google.
The search engine now links directly to Encarta, Microsoft's encyclopaedia, and everything is presented through a new, simpler, faster-to-access home page.
Currently, Google and Yahoo dominate web searching. But Microsoft says it plans to edge in later this year with its own search engine technology, which will use its own algorithms to help web users find what they want, instead of presenting them with search results which third parties have paid for.
It is thought that Microsoft's move away from such paid-for results will force Yahoo! to revisit its own policy on results too.
And net search service Ask Jeeves announced last week it would phase out paid-for results altogeather.
Today's launch represents a $100m investment in search, MSN says.
The Internet portal will take a short-term hit from the changes: it expects to lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the removal of paid inclusion. But it has to give its 350 million global users a reason to use its search engine, rather than that of Google, the runaway search market leader.
Also, it has to keep up with its other big rival, Yahoo!, which is investing heavily in algorithmic and paid search, both.
Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of MSN, said: "This massive investment kicks off a wave of innovation from MSN that will move search beyond its current, limited offering to delivering the next-generation search experience."
Sources: BBC Online, Digital Bulletin, The Register
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