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Windows Live (beta)

I was waiting something of this sort from Microsoft Mandarins from quite some time now! The battle-field of personal and customizable web-sites, which give the users facility to put up all their favorite online-content at one place, should now get a bit hotter with entry of Windows Live (still in beta, available at http://live.com). Windows Live is pitching against Yahoo! 360 and Google Personalized Homepages. And apart from the tough competition on hand, the initial reactions from users should be a cause of worry for MS.

Live gives us first glimpse of the new web-search that will be integrated with Windows Vista, and will replace MSN search gradually in coming months. Apart from a new search algorithm (perhaps, because the search results differ for MSN search and Live search), Live team has tried to float a new and innovative interface as well. However it remains to be seen that how much it is appreciated (or rejected) by our Google-fed generation.

Live Web Search
The search results are presented on a single page, with a vertical scrollbar to help you see all the results on the same page, without leaving the current page. As you scroll down, the results are loaded and shown. A horizontal scrollbar allows you to select how much description you want with a result. You can search within a result site by entering your keyword in a box just below the result site. Again you don't need to leave the page.

I liked this concept of scrollbars, but what I couldn't understand was why the search shows only upto 250 results. Even if there are 1 million results, the scrolling will load only 250 results and even this process is not very smooth. Often I felt that it has stopped loading more results after 80-90 only. The search results also are not very exciting! This thing is actually bit confusing and may be a put-off for many people. Some one should be
very worried here!

But maybe this is a problem with beta and this thing may be ironed out in next releases.

The search has been categorized in four categories:
Web: Normal web search
News: Searches news sites
Images: Now this is the real clincher! I liked this most. The horizontal scrollbar helps you select the size in which you want to see your results. Choose from six sizes available! The vertical scrollbar does its usual task of letting you see all the results on the same page by scrolling up and down. The image details (e.g. size,URL,page URL etc.) are shown only when you click on any image. Try this.

Live Image Search


Local: Tried to match Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) but doesn't quite gets it right. Google Maps is much faster.
Feeds: This is another good thing. It searches XML feeds for given keywords and allows you to add the content to your contents directly.

Now if you are thinking that I started this article posing Live as an entrant in customizable site arena, but this is turning out to be a dud search engine, then wait. I am coming to that also.

Live Account Home


You can create your Live account if you have a MSN/Hotmail login or MS Passport. Then like Google Personalized Homepage you can add content available in the Live Directory or subscribe to XML feeds. The Live Directory has various sites listed under various categories (even Flickr is here!) as well as services (Search, Mail, Weather) which can be directly dragged and dropped on your page (space shown below the services list, labelled as MyPage). You can also put in 'Widgets' (The small desktop applications available in Mac, also provided by Yahoo) on the page.

The drag and drop feature is absent in both Yahoo360 and Google (In Google you can only arrange your stuff by dragging and dropping). Also you can arrange your stuff in better manner by creating new pages, again absent in the other two. The number of XML feeds that can be added is unlimited unlike Yahoo which lets you put in only 4 or 5. The customization of content and interface is again better than Google, but don't expect anything glitzy like Yahoo 360! Another thing is that unlike Yahoo360 you can't share your content with your friends.

So what is my rating of Windows Live? For that I must decide how should I treat Live as? As a search portal or a customizable website with dynamic content?
Live disappoints in first role: hence only 5/10, even these 5 are for the interface that they have brought in.
It is promising in second role: hence 7/10, marks being deducted for not being sharable.

Tell me what do you think about it. Unlike Google services you don't need any 'invitation' for its use!
Adding on April 16th: Live search is now offering another option: 'Academic'. Like Google Scholar, you can search your keyword in published research papers and journals. And you can see extract and authors' information by just clicking on the search result. I liked the interface again, can't comment on search quality though!

Comments

Kapil said…
Well Abhishek after going through
i surfed Live yeah it hvng nice luk & feel & no doubt r also different form Google.& speciality is that one can't describe it as a pure Search Engine .It's other features & facilities make it unique in a sense.So overall it's different from Goolge(I am writing in whole context of this tool not only for it's web searching feature). & as far as searching is concerned it need to be more refined that's what i think.Still in Bita version So a full market version might be more useful.Overall a nice utility .So kudos to Microsoft fot it's efforts.

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