Microsoft running Live Search Trial Program for consumers – more search research

There is yet another twist on the web search research being done by by Microsoft, with the Live Search Trial Program lining up alongside the likes of Live Search Club, Imagine Live Search and as announced today, Tafiti.

The program appears to have started a few months back, and is running until October 15th 2007. It aims to monitor how 4000 users perform their searches, in particular what types of searches they perform (Web, Images, News etc) and what search engines they use. According to the FAQs it doesn’t monitor the actual search terms, nor searches performed on individual sites. The monitoring is done by a software application, described as follows:

The Search Trial Assistant is a piece of software that counts the number of searches you do per day, which search engines you use, and the types of searches you do, such as searches for images, news, maps, etc. The Search Trial Assistant does not track what you search for or the web sites you visit. We are simply tabulating how many searches you are doing and on what search engine. The Search Trial Assistant will send your search counts to Microsoft on a daily basis.

Microsoft confirmed this was an extension of the Microsoft Service Credits for Web Search program, aimed at enterprises and announced back in March, with the goal “to learn and understand search behaviour to improve the search experience.” In a similar manner to the enterprise program where free Microsoft software is provided to participating businesses, consumers will be offered a free 1 year OneCare subscription. Unfortunately you had to start providing information before the end of July in order to receive this, and it was invite only, but we’ll keep you posted on any other promotions we hear about.

The big question is how well Microsoft will use all this search research it is gaining. The search team has been awfully quiet recently and the rumours have been flying. Roll on that Fall update Satya Nadella spoke about

Email sent to testers (Click to enlarge)