Has Microsoft caught up to Google in search?

Barney Pell, CEO of Powerset (a company that’s building a new kind of search engine) tells me that Microsoft has caught up to Google in search relevancy (he was at the Bil conference yesterday). There are companies that are paid to track such things and he’s been watching their reports.

That made me realize that I haven’t tried a search over on Microsoft’s Live.com lately.

It also might explain why Microsoft wants to purchase Yahoo.

After all, let’s say that it’s correct that Microsoft is about to pass Google in relevancy. Would anyone switch? No. Not until they demonstrate that Microsoft is dramatically better than Google.

But, what if they combined Yahoo and Microsoft’s search result quality? And put Yahoo’s brand name on it?

Now I am starting to understand a little why this merger makes Google nervous (at least publicly).

I just don’t believe the relevancy reports, though. I did a single search on something I know about, CERN, and Google’s list is more useful and more relevant than Microsoft’s. Plus, I know how to pull things back out of Google that I’ve written on my blog. In my experience Microsoft’s engine isn’t nearly as good at that task, which will keep any blogger from singing Microsoft’s praises.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Google is just so embedded in my brain that I don’t know what Microsoft could do.

Of course then I look at Mahalo and Wikipedia and I see exactly what I’d do if I were running the search team at Microsoft.

But, instead, Microsoft is going to waste billions of dollars trying to buy a better brand name than it already has.

Maybe Microsoft should just fire its marketing department and start rebuilding its brands from the ground up. Take a 10-year approach. That’d STILL be cheaper than $40 billion.

Oh, well. Yet another thing to ask Microsoft executives at Mix this week.

Comments

  1. I used Microsoft’s Live Search search consistently for the last about 18 months, and I use Google only in case of doubt to double check. This is not scientific but I tend get the same quality usually – Google often has more results, but not necessarily more relevant results.

  2. I used Microsoft’s Live Search search consistently for the last about 18 months, and I use Google only in case of doubt to double check. This is not scientific but I tend get the same quality usually – Google often has more results, but not necessarily more relevant results.

  3. As for the German speaking market, I think Live Search has still a lot do to catch up.

    I guess they are concentrating on the US market first, but Microsoft shouldn’t forget that market share for Google is even bigger in Europe, so it’s even more difficult to catch up.

    That said, as a developer searching for domain specific information in English, I don’t notice a big difference between Live Search and Google anymore.

  4. As for the German speaking market, I think Live Search has still a lot do to catch up.

    I guess they are concentrating on the US market first, but Microsoft shouldn’t forget that market share for Google is even bigger in Europe, so it’s even more difficult to catch up.

    That said, as a developer searching for domain specific information in English, I don’t notice a big difference between Live Search and Google anymore.

  5. I completely disagree with Reinhard though can obviously only speak from experience.

    Live.com has a long long long way to go.

    Live will almost always give you a page of relevant results, but Googles page will contain more *relevant* relevant results if you get what I am saying.

  6. I completely disagree with Reinhard though can obviously only speak from experience.

    Live.com has a long long long way to go.

    Live will almost always give you a page of relevant results, but Googles page will contain more *relevant* relevant results if you get what I am saying.

  7. From my experience, Live.com image search is better than Google’s, but that’s of course less important than web search.

  8. From my experience, Live.com image search is better than Google’s, but that’s of course less important than web search.

  9. I very seriously doubt MSLive is anywhere close to Google in relevancy. In my experience they haven’t even caught Yahoo yet. The last time I tried to do real work with a non-Google search engine (a couple of months ago) was a complete disaster.

    Pith Helmet is the name of a Safari web browser extension. To find it using Google you simply search for Pith Helmet. On the other hand, Yahoo’s results for Pith Helmet are bad, and MSLive’s results are completely 100% irrelevant.

    Maybe Google just knows that I’m more interested in web browser extensions than traditional head gear, but whatever they’re doing it’s working very well indeed.

  10. I very seriously doubt MSLive is anywhere close to Google in relevancy. In my experience they haven’t even caught Yahoo yet. The last time I tried to do real work with a non-Google search engine (a couple of months ago) was a complete disaster.

    Pith Helmet is the name of a Safari web browser extension. To find it using Google you simply search for Pith Helmet. On the other hand, Yahoo’s results for Pith Helmet are bad, and MSLive’s results are completely 100% irrelevant.

    Maybe Google just knows that I’m more interested in web browser extensions than traditional head gear, but whatever they’re doing it’s working very well indeed.

  11. Microsoft should spin off it’s entire web operations under a different name as if it was a separate company and than it might attract a decent crowd. But thats entirely against their branding policy which is probably why they are so far behind.

  12. Microsoft should spin off it’s entire web operations under a different name as if it was a separate company and than it might attract a decent crowd. But thats entirely against their branding policy which is probably why they are so far behind.

  13. I actually used to use Live Search, back when it was still MSN Search. (What a stupid re-branding they did with that “Live” crap.) I also used to use IE6. I shunned Google and Firefox.

    One day I realized I was using Firefox and searching with Google. I haven’t gone back since.

    That was two years ago. When I started using Firefox full-time, the version number started with 1.5.

    In the months and years following that, I have since switched completely from Outlook email to Gmail. I have been constantly adding more Google services to my account as they are released, and I absolutely loathe Hotmail as it is now. (What’s up with the required advertisements? Notice how Google doesn’t do any of that? No ads in your inbox, no taglines, nothing.)

    Since the switch, I haven’t really tried Microsoft’s search sites. I know my dad uses them (because he uses IE7 and it’s built in and he doesn’t know either that it’s possible to change it or how to do so). But I refuse to.

  14. I actually used to use Live Search, back when it was still MSN Search. (What a stupid re-branding they did with that “Live” crap.) I also used to use IE6. I shunned Google and Firefox.

    One day I realized I was using Firefox and searching with Google. I haven’t gone back since.

    That was two years ago. When I started using Firefox full-time, the version number started with 1.5.

    In the months and years following that, I have since switched completely from Outlook email to Gmail. I have been constantly adding more Google services to my account as they are released, and I absolutely loathe Hotmail as it is now. (What’s up with the required advertisements? Notice how Google doesn’t do any of that? No ads in your inbox, no taglines, nothing.)

    Since the switch, I haven’t really tried Microsoft’s search sites. I know my dad uses them (because he uses IE7 and it’s built in and he doesn’t know either that it’s possible to change it or how to do so). But I refuse to.

  15. Even if Live Search gets better than Google I will never ever evah use them.

    Why? don’t ask, I just hate M$ to death.

  16. Even if Live Search gets better than Google I will never ever evah use them.

    Why? don’t ask, I just hate M$ to death.

  17. Microsft seems to have lost interest in search

    I launched a site q4 last year and while G and y are performing well – microsoft is ignoring the site.

  18. Microsft seems to have lost interest in search

    I launched a site q4 last year and while G and y are performing well – microsoft is ignoring the site.

  19. “Take a 10-year approach. That’d STILL be cheaper than $40 billion”

    well said!

    Are you sick Microsoft? I thought you are best in Marathon.

    saran

  20. “Take a 10-year approach. That’d STILL be cheaper than $40 billion”

    well said!

    Are you sick Microsoft? I thought you are best in Marathon.

    saran

  21. Oh yes what cred that Barney Pell says Microsoft has caught up with Google.

    What a weak post !

  22. Certainly, I’ve noticed over the last year that Google search has become less useful to me, but instead of turning to MS search, which always aggravates me a bit, I use speciality search engines or go to a site like Wikipedia and start the search there.

  23. Certainly, I’ve noticed over the last year that Google search has become less useful to me, but instead of turning to MS search, which always aggravates me a bit, I use speciality search engines or go to a site like Wikipedia and start the search there.

  24. Search is a commodity. Yahoo! and Google’s SERP’s are nearly identical to the un-trained (non-SEO) eye. Have a look: http://twingine.no/search.php?q=scoble&lang=

    The difference in market-share comes from brand equity and (more importantly) DISTRIBUTION. People ‘google’ and advertisers spend budget with Google because of their vast network of publishers who syndicate their SERP’s, adsense and domain-related adsense.

    If MSN or YHOO wants to win here, they better marketing AND better distribution. The SERPS are just the commodity in this game.

  25. Search is a commodity. Yahoo! and Google’s SERP’s are nearly identical to the un-trained (non-SEO) eye. Have a look: http://twingine.no/search.php?q=scoble&lang=

    The difference in market-share comes from brand equity and (more importantly) DISTRIBUTION. People ‘google’ and advertisers spend budget with Google because of their vast network of publishers who syndicate their SERP’s, adsense and domain-related adsense.

    If MSN or YHOO wants to win here, they better marketing AND better distribution. The SERPS are just the commodity in this game.

  26. As long as they can see the potential for profit in it, Microsoft should probably persist with search. But I’d love to know how they figure that potential. I just can’t see what would make it compelling enough to make me (or worse, the man in the street) switch my googling to MS.

    The search eyeballs will have to come from a stealthier approach (an ethically stealthy one, please!) whereby something really new and exciting – or at least substantially better than before – is presented to the mass-market. Which means innovation, and that’s just not something in whcih they have a great track record.

    Still, an interesting one for us spectators.

  27. As long as they can see the potential for profit in it, Microsoft should probably persist with search. But I’d love to know how they figure that potential. I just can’t see what would make it compelling enough to make me (or worse, the man in the street) switch my googling to MS.

    The search eyeballs will have to come from a stealthier approach (an ethically stealthy one, please!) whereby something really new and exciting – or at least substantially better than before – is presented to the mass-market. Which means innovation, and that’s just not something in whcih they have a great track record.

    Still, an interesting one for us spectators.

  28. Here we go again, some idiot claiming Microsoft’s search engine is now as relevant as Google’s (or Yahoo’s). Every time I hear this claim, I rerun some of my test searches including my brother’s Buffalo Wing Sauce business. Usually my brother’s business comes up on page 1 or 2 of a search (and still does with Google and Yahoo). Well, I just tested with Live Search and it doesn’t even make it in the first 10 pages. I realize this is not all that scientific, but a few other searches I ran revealed similar deficiencies still in Live Search.

  29. Here we go again, some idiot claiming Microsoft’s search engine is now as relevant as Google’s (or Yahoo’s). Every time I hear this claim, I rerun some of my test searches including my brother’s Buffalo Wing Sauce business. Usually my brother’s business comes up on page 1 or 2 of a search (and still does with Google and Yahoo). Well, I just tested with Live Search and it doesn’t even make it in the first 10 pages. I realize this is not all that scientific, but a few other searches I ran revealed similar deficiencies still in Live Search.

  30. All I can say is for my niche Microsoft sucks. In Google the first page or results for my industries top keywords is filled with highly relevant sites. On live search there are 1-2 good sites and the other 8-9 are spam or old. Google still seems way better at filtering out the spam and finding the new relevant content to me.
    It’s funny cause a lot of the spam sites listed are filled with Google Adwords ads. Google’s doing a good job at sucking off MS search profits it looks like =).

  31. All I can say is for my niche Microsoft sucks. In Google the first page or results for my industries top keywords is filled with highly relevant sites. On live search there are 1-2 good sites and the other 8-9 are spam or old. Google still seems way better at filtering out the spam and finding the new relevant content to me.
    It’s funny cause a lot of the spam sites listed are filled with Google Adwords ads. Google’s doing a good job at sucking off MS search profits it looks like =).

  32. Discussions about the most relevant search engine always surprise me. Anecdotal evidence is not scientific. The only way to test two engines is in a blind study with thousands of queries crossing many verticals.

    Now, I use Yahoo instead of Google. From my naive user perspective, I find the two engines “equivalent.” Maybe at this point we’re in the realm of talking about whether a BMW is better than a Mercedes: it just comes down to personal preference.

  33. Discussions about the most relevant search engine always surprise me. Anecdotal evidence is not scientific. The only way to test two engines is in a blind study with thousands of queries crossing many verticals.

    Now, I use Yahoo instead of Google. From my naive user perspective, I find the two engines “equivalent.” Maybe at this point we’re in the realm of talking about whether a BMW is better than a Mercedes: it just comes down to personal preference.

  34. I used Microsoft’s Live Search search consistently for the last about 18 months, and I use Google only in case of doubt to double check. This is not scientific but I tend get the same quality usually – Google often has more results, but not necessarily more relevant results.

  35. I used Microsoft’s Live Search search consistently for the last about 18 months, and I use Google only in case of doubt to double check. This is not scientific but I tend get the same quality usually – Google often has more results, but not necessarily more relevant results.