Last week, ComScore released some search numbers that were pretty sobering for MSN and Windows Live. Google continues to not only lead but gain in the market, and while there has been lots of activity on the MSN side, it actually lost significant market share in the last three month period. Of course the whole naming/branding confusion thing doesn't seem to be helping matters much, or the idea to wait til Windows Live products are out of beta, sometime in the fall, to begin to market them. And yet, it's still very early in the game. At Supernova in San Francisco, the consensus was that search still has a long way to go. Microsoft is hiring hard for Search, expecting to double the number of developers working on search in the next year from some 40 to 80+, and estimates that about 10% of the work needed in search is done, with 90% to come. Windows Live Search will soon be featured across all Windows Live properties – Spaces, Messenger, Live.com, Windows Live Mobile, Live Local, etc., areas where it won't be necessary to offer search engine choices.
The marketing push, while it's not here yet, will soon come hot and heavy, along with the kind of gradual improvements we've been noting here, such as cached pages. And new features and properties, from QnA, expected out in beta soon, to search macros, to book and acedemic search, to third party solutions built on a more open Windows Live platform, will all add value to search. Is Microsoft going to topple Google in the short term? Of course not. Does MS have the expertise, the experience, and the deep pockets to take a long term approach to getting lots better at search? Early indications are it does. Time will tell, but it's still very, very early. Perhaps best of all, no matter who "wins", search is bound to get better.
note: edited to fix a stupid spelling error.