"Especially after the world was shocked - shocked! - to discover the site isn't really worth $15bn"
Microsoft has traded its exclusive deal to plaster Facebook with banner advertising for the right to pump Google-style contextual search ads on the profit-lite website. The switcheroo was tossed into yesterday's attempt by Steve Ballmer to convince analysts that he's still the world's top chair-flinging sweaty software kingpin …
When will MS wake up and realise that they don't know the first thing about making a decent search system?
Even Bill Gates commented on how crap the search system on their own website was: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/25/bill-gates-2003-flam.html
Ok this was a while ago, but nothing's really improved from them. Tip: if you can't make a search engine that works for a single domain, what hope do you have in making one that works for the entire web?
I notice your rhetoric is quite anti-Microsoft: words like “crowbar”, “plaster” and “naff” which is fine - everyone’s entitled to their opinion! But I find it odd that you’re still quite happy to take Microsoft’s money when it’s offered in the form of advertising on your own site.
"Redmond will get to replace Facebook's own search effort with a Live Search box, which will allow users to scour the web without leaving the social network."
So that would mean people will be using their OS to launch a web browser, to visit Facebook, to search the web.
Isn't it curious how many different "platforms" people run inside one another these days? For some people their OS is Vista/OSX/Ubuntu, for some it's effectively the browser and now there are presumably people who never actually leave facebook.
It's only a matter of time before you can buy an actual FaceBook, which is kind of like a netbook but boots to a full-screen browser that won't navigate away from facebook.com.
"Ok this was a while ago, but nothing's really improved from them."
A couple of years ago I'd have agreed and said Microsoft's own site search functionality was somewhat poor.
Nowadays though I find the search sections of Microsoft's numerous sites to be very efficient, effective, and powerful in their scope. MSDN search and Support search are both fantastic and very good at delivering entirely relevant results as required. Even the search feature for the main microsoft.com site (which incidentally searches all or a user selection of all MS subdomains) is very reliable, often offering a 'recommended result' which is normally the very page I'm after - regardless of the complexity or simplicity of my query!
These days I'm beginning to feel a need to move away from Google's invasive practices and amazingly I'm finding http://www.live.com to be the solution. Google's own search results are increasingly yielding link sites for generating search engine results instead of the actual content I'm seeking.
"you’re still quite happy to take Microsoft’s money when it’s offered in the form of advertising on your own site"
That's called (a) pragmatism and (b) respect for editorial independence. That is, all 'free' sites need income - hence the adverts, even from M$ - and the fact that M$ is advertising does not affect the contents of the articles posted - which is as it should be.
BTW are you the Mark Steadman originally hailing from Alcester (does the phrase 'back in your box, Steadman' bring back any school memories????!!!)
I am .NET software developer and I always go back to Google to search for MSDN articles. I don't even think to chose, I just know it works so I use it.
As a real example, try "addwithvalue", it takes Google 0.15 secs, it takes MSDN from the addwithvalue page -> 0.5 secs and much longer to render the results page.
Now I see why I use google. If im on MSDN, I click Home (Google), search, click then im there quicker than if I use MSDN's own search box.
So im my opinion, yes it's poor....
Char ching! Thanks Craig, check is the mail.
Also Craig, have you tired my latest operating system. It is called Vista, it is really terrific, works super and craps all over Mac, Linux etc.
(Provided, of course you have the right hardware, that is 8core gazzilion MHZ processor, umpteen thouand gigabytes of ram, double-crossfire graphics cards.
And a spare half day waiting for it to boot and load up a word document.)
Cheers, Bill, sorry, I meant Steve.
Talking of Microsoft's web search...
For a few months now my web server logs have been getting a steady trickle of hits from IP addresses in the 65.55.x.x range that are owned by MS. They're slightly different to the IPs used by MSN's crawler so it isn't that.
The user agent string is IE7's and the referrer is a MS Live search URL complete with search terms, however it's usually just one random word that appears somewhere in the site and makes little sense on its own. It certainly doesn't bring my site up when I try searching it on LIve search myself.
So, unless a lot of MS employees are firing up IE7 and searching for the same small number of words every hour for months on end, this appears more to be a bot of some kind trying to skew my logs and make it look like I'm getting much more visitors from MS Live search than I really am.
Has anyone else noticed this behaviour?
Craig is right in that their search on MSDN got better.
Maybe a year ago, when fed with a win-API function name, MSDN would bring up at least two pages of useless articles, howtos etc before the actual function reference page; and it was almost impossible to spot which was the useful one due to the suboptimal result descriptions.
His post made me give it a try right now (i use "MSDN-Google" firefox search thing usually when i need something searched on MSDN).
Indeed the win32 function reference is now on top, followed by the win-mobile equivalent, then MFC wrappers, the topic header page and finally also a howto, before it drifts into the usual irrelevant stuff.
On other instances it could be .NET or MFC reference is in top spot, but that happens on google too, and i guess some people are looking for those rather than native win32, so i can't really count that as negative.
The results returned under "refine by topic" seem even really good and if their search box would use the "refinement" where you search from as default on the first search already, that would be beating the google results by miles (which is to be *expected* when MS searches MSDN as compared to someone else; and i really don't get why when i search from a "win32 and COM" page, they don't prioritise results from that category already by default on the first search)
True, the MSDN "live" search is slower than MSDN via google, esp. it renders slower because of their less minimalistic layout. But at least it has grown from a complete joke to something that doesn't look that useless any more.
Of course it is possible i was just lucky with my test search terms, though >>
(all i'm talking about above is restricted to search on MSDN, stated just to be explicit since i don't know and don't care about live search on the web. It also isn't meant to include any company X better than company Y. Oh, well just bash away if you can with a straight face..)
Blah blah, MS, Vista, Bad, Piss, Whinge, Bitch, Moan, Boring, Boring, BORING!
Is Google better than Live? - Yes, but Live is improving fast,
Has Vista got anything to do with the topic? No.
Do Anti-MS Zealots have anything better to do with their time? No.
Does anyone really give a crap WHO does the search in that little itty-bitty box on Facebook? NO.
I'll get my coat, be at the bar waiting for people to talk about technology rather than bitch about the people that make it. "Stella and a packet of crisps please love".
Thanks, AC, hadn't been aware of that until now.
Apparently MS, in an effort to spot cloaking (yeah, right) stuffs logs all over the world with fake webpage visits referred to from live.search.com.
If this has the consequence of making Live seem more relevant and used than it really is, that's of course entirely unintended and hasn't occurred to Microsoft.
@AC and Steadman
One of my favorite things about the Register is its ability to lay it on when it is deserved. I cannot give direct examples or I would out myself. Suffice to say when it is deserved, they shovel away the bullshit and reinterpret the rhetoric to restate what is really being said...in a way that appeals even if your company is getting the roasting.
I would not say that they are any more prone to bashing MS or Google or Intel or AMD or whomever from my years of reading. They give all companies an equal opportunity to draw the ire...and garner the glowing praise when deserved.