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Search Blog — Oct 2007

  • October
    29

    Drive for show, Putt for Dough - 10 Reasons...

    Software engineers tend to spend a lot more time working out at the driving range than they do the putting green. Left on our own we'd all be working on stuff like 3D Birds Eye navigation or robotic building modeling ; doing a local search for a coffee shop would require first getting strapped up like this Microsoft Researcher to the right so that we could predict where you wanted to find it and if you prefer decaf. Fortunately our team is lead by a seasoned cast of veteran cat herders who continuously remind us how important it is to be creating and improving the core features you use everyday at our site - driving directions, geocoding, map navigation, local search... else you might not want to return to explore Collections and create 3D tours. When we launched the Gemini release of Live Search Maps last week there was plenty of coverage of the new gee-wiz features like 3D modeling. Now I present to you my list of the top 10 improvements aimed at delighting you; features that quietly improve your daily experience and at the same time make the more talked about features really shine. To go with another sports analogy, I present to you the starting offensive line of Live Search Maps... Read More Software engineers tend to spend a lot more time working out at the driving range than they do the putting green. Left on our own we'd all be working on stuff like 3D Birds Eye navigation or robotic building modeling ; doing a local search for a coffee shop would require first getting strapped up like this Microsoft Researcher to the right so that we could predict where you wanted to find it and if you prefer decaf. Fortunately our team is lead by a seasoned cast of veteran cat herders who continuously remind us how important it is to be creating and improving the core features you use everyday at our site - driving directions, geocoding, map navigation, local search... else you might not want to return to explore Collections and create 3D tours. When we launched the Gemini release of Live Search Maps last week there was plenty of coverage of the new gee-wiz features like 3D modeling. Now I present to you my list of the top 10 improvements aimed at delighting you; features that quietly improve your daily experience and at the same time make the more talked about features really shine. To go with another sports analogy, I present to you the starting offensive line of Live Search Maps... Read More
  • October
    29

    “Do what I mean, not what I say!” [Part...

    Continuing on with our “Do what I mean, not what I say”, blog post from last time, here are some additional categories we tackled with this initiative. Equivalencies “We do really badly on the query ca chp ” a coworker complained in one email. “Ca chp?” I thought. “What the heck does that mean?” It turned out it was pretty simple: “ca” was short for California and “chp” was short for California highway patrol . Obviously, my coworker knew what he meant by the query ca chp , but I didn’t know it, and our search engine definitely didn’t know it. After seeing many complaints from customers of this sort we began to realize that to truly improve the relevance of our search engine, it was more confirmation that we had to move past just simple keyword matching, and into understanding the intent of your query. So when you search for crossroads mall in OKC we take this to mean crossroads mall in Oklahoma City . When you search for Julia child bio we’ll also look for Julia child biography to give you better results. But of course, the same word could mean something different in another context. Hence, when you search for nw university we we’ll search for northwestern university... Read More Continuing on with our “Do what I mean, not what I say”, blog post from last time, here are some additional categories we tackled with this initiative. Equivalencies “We do really badly on the query ca chp ” a coworker complained in one email. “Ca chp?” I thought. “What the heck does that mean?” It turned out it was pretty simple: “ca” was short for California and “chp” was short for California highway patrol . Obviously, my coworker knew what he meant by the query ca chp , but I didn’t know it, and our search engine definitely didn’t know it. After seeing many complaints from customers of this sort we began to realize that to truly improve the relevance of our search engine, it was more confirmation that we had to move past just simple keyword matching, and into understanding the intent of your query. So when you search for crossroads mall in OKC we take this to mean crossroads mall in Oklahoma City . When you search for Julia child bio we’ll also look for Julia child biography to give you better results. But of course, the same word could mean something different in another context. Hence, when you search for nw university we we’ll search for northwestern university... Read More
  • October
    24

    “Do what I mean, not what I say!” [Part...

    Yes, that's an odd title, let me explain. We've been working on returning the very best search results for your intent , not just for the particular search terms that you happen to have chosen as a vehicle to transmit that intent. There's an important difference there and it's been our focus for quite some time. For example, let's suppose that you've decided to move to the state of Arizona. You'd like to double check that how hot it gets there so you search for hottest temperature in the state of az . In this case, the intent of the query was different than the search terms entered: it would be unfortunate if a particularly good result was excluded from the results simply because it contained the term Arizona instead of the abbreviation AZ . In the new release of Live Search we've made a number of improvements in this area of more deeply understanding user intent. AutoSpell Correction The first example of this is our new AutoSpell feature. If we are absolutely, completely, totally, "no doubt about it" confident you misspelled one of your search terms, we automatically deliver a page that includes spell-corrected results, rather than a page of misspelled results accompanied... Read More Yes, that's an odd title, let me explain. We've been working on returning the very best search results for your intent , not just for the particular search terms that you happen to have chosen as a vehicle to transmit that intent. There's an important difference there and it's been our focus for quite some time. For example, let's suppose that you've decided to move to the state of Arizona. You'd like to double check that how hot it gets there so you search for hottest temperature in the state of az . In this case, the intent of the query was different than the search terms entered: it would be unfortunate if a particularly good result was excluded from the results simply because it contained the term Arizona instead of the abbreviation AZ . In the new release of Live Search we've made a number of improvements in this area of more deeply understanding user intent. AutoSpell Correction The first example of this is our new AutoSpell feature. If we are absolutely, completely, totally, "no doubt about it" confident you misspelled one of your search terms, we automatically deliver a page that includes spell-corrected results, rather than a page of misspelled results accompanied... Read More
  • October
    19

    3 New Updates to Live Search Mobile

    On Monday the 15 th we also released a number of updates for our Live Search Mobile products , including: Voice input and gas prices in Live Search for Windows Mobile, A new beta for BlackBerry devices, and Improved mapping and directions in browser-based search for any mobile phone Details are below - please check them out and let us know what you think! Voice Input and Gas Prices Now in Live Search for Windows Mobile Live Search has been a hit with Windows Mobile enthusiasts (read a few reviews here and here ) for awhile now. It's a great way to get local search, mapping and navigation and today we're making it even better. You can now speak your query instead of typing it! Just press the lower left soft-key and say what you want, for example, "Anthony's Pizza" or "Hardware Stores". We use advanced voice recognition technology to understand what you're asking for and give you results. So far we've found it to be a really fast way to get answers for most searches. This feature is currently in beta so let us know how well it works for you! If it doesn't recognize something you say, of course you can still type it in like you used to. Another new feature... Read More On Monday the 15 th we also released a number of updates for our Live Search Mobile products , including: Voice input and gas prices in Live Search for Windows Mobile, A new beta for BlackBerry devices, and Improved mapping and directions in browser-based search for any mobile phone Details are below - please check them out and let us know what you think! Voice Input and Gas Prices Now in Live Search for Windows Mobile Live Search has been a hit with Windows Mobile enthusiasts (read a few reviews here and here ) for awhile now. It's a great way to get local search, mapping and navigation and today we're making it even better. You can now speak your query instead of typing it! Just press the lower left soft-key and say what you want, for example, "Anthony's Pizza" or "Hardware Stores". We use advanced voice recognition technology to understand what you're asking for and give you results. So far we've found it to be a really fast way to get answers for most searches. This feature is currently in beta so let us know how well it works for you! If it doesn't recognize something you say, of course you can still type it in like you used to. Another new feature... Read More
  • October
    10

    New and improved product results in Web...

    It’s no surprise to anyone who uses the Web that shopping is one of the leading online activities. Many people use the Internet to research their next purchase or buy products online. We’re here to help you find the product information you care about and make informed decisions. We’ve recently launched a richer experience when searching for products—from broad categories such as digital cameras to specific products such as Nikon d40 . Product Category Searches For category searches we now show you popular products within that category. The average rating and sales price are shown below the product image with an option to browse more products on MSN Shopping . You can also research products you are interested in by reading the collection of user reviews and viewing a summary of the overall opinion that users have about that product. We’ve indexed millions of products and user reviews through a combination of crawling Web sites and obtaining feeds from partner sites. Computers and electronics are the most popular categories for product research online and this is where we put a lot of focus for this release. But—because we know people look for other products (like Gucci bags ) and... Read More It’s no surprise to anyone who uses the Web that shopping is one of the leading online activities. Many people use the Internet to research their next purchase or buy products online. We’re here to help you find the product information you care about and make informed decisions. We’ve recently launched a richer experience when searching for products—from broad categories such as digital cameras to specific products such as Nikon d40 . Product Category Searches For category searches we now show you popular products within that category. The average rating and sales price are shown below the product image with an option to browse more products on MSN Shopping . You can also research products you are interested in by reading the collection of user reviews and viewing a summary of the overall opinion that users have about that product. We’ve indexed millions of products and user reviews through a combination of crawling Web sites and obtaining feeds from partner sites. Computers and electronics are the most popular categories for product research online and this is where we put a lot of focus for this release. But—because we know people look for other products (like Gucci bags ) and... Read More
  • October
    02

    Relevance, Relevance, Relevance!

    In building 88 on Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, WA there is a small, but growing group of us that think about relevance constantly. We eat, live and breathe ideas and technology that makes our relevance better. Having worked on this release for a little over 9 months we could not be more excited about the relevance of our new engine. From our metrics, and more importantly our usage as customers, our new engine is so far superior to our old one. Consider this post a little tour guide, if you will, of our new engine and the things you might notice when you use it. Improved core relevance Core relevance is a hard thing to quantify or qualify. I think of it as those real searches you do day in and day out. When people do fancy demos they use searches like Britney Spears …which is an important search, but doesn’t really reflect some of the tough things the engine sees every day. I was trying to think of a good example of this and just as I was writing, bam, a bunch of us decided to head to our favorite spot for lunch: the Microsoft taco truck. I was kind of curious what would come up for Microsoft taco truck . Sure enough, Live Search has good stuff. The chowhound.com result... Read More In building 88 on Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, WA there is a small, but growing group of us that think about relevance constantly. We eat, live and breathe ideas and technology that makes our relevance better. Having worked on this release for a little over 9 months we could not be more excited about the relevance of our new engine. From our metrics, and more importantly our usage as customers, our new engine is so far superior to our old one. Consider this post a little tour guide, if you will, of our new engine and the things you might notice when you use it. Improved core relevance Core relevance is a hard thing to quantify or qualify. I think of it as those real searches you do day in and day out. When people do fancy demos they use searches like Britney Spears …which is an important search, but doesn’t really reflect some of the tough things the engine sees every day. I was trying to think of a good example of this and just as I was writing, bam, a bunch of us decided to head to our favorite spot for lunch: the Microsoft taco truck. I was kind of curious what would come up for Microsoft taco truck . Sure enough, Live Search has good stuff. The chowhound.com result... Read More
  • October
    01

    Microsoft acquires Jellyfish.com

    We want to welcome some new folks to the Live Search family - we recently purchased a company called Jellyfish.com , based in Madison, Wisconsin. Jellyfish has done some really innovative work in comparative shopping engines. We think the technology has some interesting potential applications as we continue to invest heavily in shopping and commerce as a key component of Live Search. Stay tuned for more great stuff from our new colleagues in Madison! We want to welcome some new folks to the Live Search family - we recently purchased a company called Jellyfish.com , based in Madison, Wisconsin. Jellyfish has done some really innovative work in comparative shopping engines. We think the technology has some interesting potential applications as we continue to invest heavily in shopping and commerce as a key component of Live Search. Stay tuned for more great stuff from our new colleagues in Madison!