Microsoft has launched the beta version of its latest search technology, called Windows Live Search. Features of the new search engine include a slider bar with which users can increase or reduce the level of information displayed in search results.
"We're unveiling a range of innovations that deliver an outstanding level of power and simplicity to search," said Christopher Payne, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Live Search, in a statement.
The new engine lets users search through different kinds of content, including images, news, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, local information, and other online material.
Along with the new search engine, Microsoft also introduced the Windows Live Toolbar, which is designed to give users the ability to search from any Web page and to save, organize, and share the information they find online.
In addition to providing search capabilities, the new toolbar offers protection against phishing threats and pop-ups.
Many search experts consider Windows Live Search to be Microsoft's latest offensive in its fight with rival Google. The beta release comes just a week after Neil Holloway, president of Microsoft Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said Microsoft was planning to introduce a new search engine in six months that would "outsearch" rival Google's search engine.
"What we're saying is that in six months' time we'll be more relevant in the U.S. marketplace than Google," Holloway told reporters.
However, several days later, Holloway claimed that the news reports covering his statements did not accurately reflect the "long and detailed discussion" he had with reporters. He categorically denied any comments that the Microsoft product would be "twice as good as Google."
"What I did say is that we are committed to investing in R&D aimed at providing a search service, initially in the U.S. in six months, that performs better than the current industry-wide standard of one in two URLs being connected to the subject of the query," Holloway wrote in a blog posting.
Holloway added that the software giant's aim is "to perform as good as or better than" Google, although that is a long-term goal, he admitted. Holloway said that Microsoft respects Google as a competitor and that it is "an amazing company that should be recognized for its innovation in the search category."
That said, Holloway ended the post by throwing down the gauntlet. "We know that there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the search experience still further, because many questions go unanswered today," Holloway concluded. "We want to deliver a service to our customers that sets new standards, and we are committed to long-term investment and innovation to meet the challenge."
When asked about Holloway's comments, an MSN spokesperson seemed to agree with the tenor of his remarks and reiterated that, to Microsoft, "search is in its infancy." The spokesperson pointed out that the software developer believes there is "massive opportunity to improve every aspect of the search experience."
According to the spokesperson, areas that can be upgraded include the user interface, the customization and personalization options, and the ability to refine and interact with search results.
"For the competitive landscape, we can't predict the progress our competitors will make, but our collective progress is great for search and our customers, and we are deeply committed to leading in search innovation," the spokesperson said.