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Microsoft unveils search strategy

Microsoft unveils search strategy

Microsoft plans to enhance its Live Search offering with the $486m (£265.8) purchase of Greenfield Online, the owner of European price comparison and shopping site Ciao.

"Integrating Ciao's capabilities into Live Search will provide a strong launch-pad for our commercial search offer in Europe and enhance our e-commerce offering on MSN," said John Mangelaars, Microsoft European Consumer and Online vice president.

Mangelaars explained Microsoft's strategy had three prongs: to deliver best results, simplify key tasks and create an innovative business model.

The first part of the strategy will be fulfilled with the datacentre Microsoft spent $500m (£275m) on in Ireland, while the second part is accomplished by the firm's acquisition of Ciao, as well as the previous acquisition of Multimap, he said.

Mangelaars said the acquisitions intended to provide users with more intelligent search information.

"Search is currently a list of rulings, but we want to provide users with information such as a list of airlines with the best fares or when users type in a restaurant name, we want to give them a map to the venue," he said.

The Ciao purchase will allow Microsoft to provide details of prices alongside its Live Search results, while the Multimap acquisition will allow Microsoft to provide users with map details relating to search terms, Mangelaars added.

He acknowledged that providing users with more details could potentially be complicated since there are some instances where a search term could have multiple connotations. For example, the search term "orient express" could be a book, a Chinese restaurant, a method of transport or a movie.

"In this case we will look at the user's search history, such as if they have just been looking at Chinese restaurants we will have an idea of what the user wants to find," he said.

He said this was the first time Microsoft was announcing its full search strategy.

Microsoft plans to fulfil the final part of the strategy - to create an innovative business model - by working with merchants to provide consumers discounts on purchases they buy over the web site. Mangelaars explained the model will work by the merchants paying Microsoft money if it directs consumers to their sites.

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