Microsoft Announces Upgrades to Live Search, Including "Blended Search"

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Microsoft has announced a set of what it claims are “significant advancements in core technology and consumer experience” for its search engine, Live Search.

Among these advancements: improved results relevance, faster load times, UI enhancements, a search index four times larger than before, and special results pages for queries related to entertainment, shopping, health, and local areas. These special pages will attempt to provide comprehensive overviews of the topic at hand using images, prices, reviews, ratings, and maps in addition to regular results. VP Satya Nadella has labeled the idea behind these pages “blended search”, a term which is highly reminiscent of Google’s “universal search”.

Microsoft is also announcing improvements to each of its search verticals. Live Search Video will be enhanced with a motion preview feature that allows users to watch previews instantly by putting their cursor over video thumbnails. Live Search Entertainment will sport an “xRank” feature that ranks celebrities according to how popular they are online.

The Live Search team over at Microsoft says these improvements form the biggest upgrade to Live Search since the search engine debuted in January 2005. We’ll have to wait to see how impressive these improvements actually are, as they are currently being rolled out (no solid timeline has been provided).

Microsoft is currently in 3rd place among the search engine giants with 11.3% of the market. Google dominates with 56.5% and Yahoo trails the leader with 23.3%. Ask and AOL are picking up the scraps with 4.5% each.

It’s nice to see Microsoft doing more to gain ground on Google than simply making Tafiti, its experimental search interface based on Live Search, even more spiffy.

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