Posted March 23, 2007 9:30 am by with 8 comments

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Ever since Microsoft launched its own search engine, we’ve heard their claims that they’d gain ground on Google and compete in anywhere from 3-5 years.

Well, as Business Week points out, in the two years since Microsoft dumped Inktomi, it’s not exactly headed in the right direction.

In February, 2005, Microsoft’s MSN Search accounted for nearly 14% of all Web searches, compared with a 46% share for search leader Google, according to research firm Nielsen//NetRatings. Just two years later, Microsoft’s rebranded Windows Live Search has a 9.6% share, compared with Google’s nearly 56%. That amounts to nearly 300 million lost searches per month. The sense that Microsoft is slipping was reinforced with a recent shuffling of top executives.

Not helping is MSFT’s decision to play around with the MSN brand and introduce all manner of “Live” labels to its internet products.

…Microsoft muddled its message in November, 2005, when it launched the “Live” initiative designed to turbocharge Web services, including search, with programs running on PCs. But Microsoft continued to use the MSN prefix on some Web sites, such as its portal and shopping page, while using Windows Live for its e-mail and search services.

Also, not helping? Their search technology pretty much sucks. While it’s nice to blame the brand change for the loss in market-share, it really comes down to the quality of the search results. Apart from their image search, I’ve never found Microsoft’s search technology – btw, even I don’t know whether to call it MSN, Windows Live, Live Search, Windows Search – to be of any great value.

BTW, something else curious from the BW piece…

Steve Berkowitz, who was hired last May to rev up the Web business as senior vice-president for Microsoft’s Online Services Group, declined to comment.

Declined to comment? Business Week runs an article on your search efforts, and the guy in charge refuses to talk about it? Maybe they need to keep on shuffling the executive deck of cards, until they find someone with enough, you know what, to face the music and tell us what’s going on, and what they’re doing to right the ship.

  • That is pretty ridiculous that the guy declined to comment. Microsoft will never be anything in the search game b/c all they do is follow everyone else’s lead. When was the last time they came up with something creative and new?

    I wont even comment on the quality of their results. HA

  • David

    Andy Beal was described to me by a former WebSourced’er as a “tool.” Read his blog and the attempts to curry favor with Google are obvious. Is this a hit job done in hopes of landing with Google’s new North Carolina presence?

  • Are you serious David? I am sure Andy aspires to much greater things. Now me however, I would love to work for Google.

    Your post got me thinking Andy, to the launch of MSN Search, in fact their Beta too.

    At the time I had a tourism site in a tough market, New Zealand tourism. I had spent months creating extensive content and backed it up with weeks worth of SEO work (all white-hat of course) to try and get into the top 100 of Google for ‘New Zealand tourism’, or ‘New Zealand travel’. All to no avail. Maybe the oft-rumoured sandbox… who knows.

    Then suddenly along comes Microsoft, with the shiny new MSN Search, and lo and behold there I am second only to the official NZ tourist board. I loved MSN Search so much that I made it my homepage and used it every day. For about a month.

    I quickly ended up back at Google. The results were consistently better (with the exception of NZ tourism searches of course).

    In any case, my opinion is that Microsoft should stick to what they know best and leave search to those that have mastered it. If you can’t add something to a service offering to make it better than the competition then you just shouldn’t bother.

  • I can well believe that Microsoft’s search is losing ground. As an Internet user I have occasionally stumbled across it (like using the default search on a new machine), but there’s nothing compelling there and the search results (albeit more relevant than they used to be) are still nowhere as useful as Google’s.

    If Microsoft wasn’t a dominant player in the software market, their search engine wouldn’t have got anywhere near the use it gets today.

  • Doesn’t surprise me one bit! Most people I talk to don’t even realize Microsoft offers search.. they usually just stumble across it when they don’t get the URL they’re looking for and IE lands them on the search page


  • David – thanks for stopping by, please pass on my regards to the person that gave me such a glowing testimonial. Please feel free to stick around and actually read this blog. You’ll find that I post positive and negative posts about all the search engines.

    BTW, did you know that Google is building a server farm in NC. Where exactly would I fit in with a server farm?

    I’m quite happy doing what I am doing.

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