Microsoft Search (continued)

Last November, I did a long blog post about my side by side comparison of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft search.  Microsoft had just launched their search in beta at the time.  My conclusion was that Google was still the best for plain vanilla search because of the format of the results page, the speed of the search, and the relevance of the results.

Well Microsoft is out of beta now as evidenced by the availability of the service at http://search.msn.com.  The word beta is gone from the URL.

So, I went back and redid the comparison tests.  Did anything change during the beta? Yes, Microsoft got worse and the others didn’t change.

Why did Microsoft get worse?  Mostly because the relevance of the results got worse. They did something to their algorithm during the beta period that caused the results on the searches I did to change.

First, I always Google myself.  In all three engines last fall, this blog was at the top or in the first three or results that are "above the fold".  It’s still that way in Google and Yahoo!, but somehow this blog is now buried half way down the second page in Microsoft’s resutls.

That’s enough for me but in an attempt to be fair and balanced, I tried a few more keywords. So I tried "bit torrent + wilco" on all three.  The first result for Microsoft and Yahoo! was the front page of bt.etree.org which is a big bit torrent site.  Google had that second.  But Google and Yahoo! all had various bit torrent sites above the fold, whereas Microsoft had a bunch of other stuff that was less relevant.

I tried a few more searches and in every case, Microsoft’s results page was less relevant to me than Yahoo!’s and Google’s.

As I said in November, Microsoft has made a nice effort to develop a competitive product, but it isn’t going to change my behavior yet.