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Search Blog — Apr 2009

  • April
    30

    Flights – and Not the Late Kind!

    I’ve spent a lot of time on airplanes in the past few weeks. All that thinking about flights got me thinking about trying new things: new foods, new hotels, new smells in taxi cabs. That got me thinking about how we try new things in search. And that reminded me of what we call it here when we try new things: flighting (which you may recall from Ramez Nam’s post earlier this month.) And that, my friends, is a play on words. This is how we do it: http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/StefanIs/StefanIs005/ Enjoy, Stefan Weitz, Director, Live Search I’ve spent a lot of time on airplanes in the past few weeks. All that thinking about flights got me thinking about trying new things: new foods, new hotels, new smells in taxi cabs. That got me thinking about how we try new things in search. And that reminded me of what we call it here when we try new things: flighting (which you may recall from Ramez Nam’s post earlier this month.) And that, my friends, is a play on words. This is how we do it: http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/StefanIs/StefanIs005/ Enjoy, Stefan Weitz, Director, Live Search
  • April
    29

    Hot Spots and Hot Deals

    Thinking about your summer travel plans? Debating between the beach, the city, or a combination of both? Live Search and Virtual Earth are here to help make the decision a bit easier. Yesterday, Virtual Earth released new imagery for more than 1 million square kilometers around the globe. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite places to visit from a whole different angle. We even have some deals on airfare through our travel site, Farecast . You can’t go wrong with a beach trip to the Bahamas or anywhere in the Caribbean, especially with these great prices . For the metropolitan traveler, London is always a great option, and for less than $500 from NYC, Seattle, Chicago, Portland, Newark, or Philadelphia, it’s an affordable one too. Dreaming of Dubai? Us, too. Airfare deals to Dubai are harder to come by, so this image might have to do. How about a trip to the happiest place on earth? Depending where you’re coming from, you might be able to get close to Mickey Mouse and friends for less than $100 . Happy travels, Melissa Powell, Senior Product Manager, Live Search Thinking about your summer travel plans? Debating between the beach, the city, or a combination of both? Live Search and Virtual Earth are here to help make the decision a bit easier. Yesterday, Virtual Earth released new imagery for more than 1 million square kilometers around the globe. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite places to visit from a whole different angle. We even have some deals on airfare through our travel site, Farecast . You can’t go wrong with a beach trip to the Bahamas or anywhere in the Caribbean, especially with these great prices . For the metropolitan traveler, London is always a great option, and for less than $500 from NYC, Seattle, Chicago, Portland, Newark, or Philadelphia, it’s an affordable one too. Dreaming of Dubai? Us, too. Airfare deals to Dubai are harder to come by, so this image might have to do. How about a trip to the happiest place on earth? Depending where you’re coming from, you might be able to get close to Mickey Mouse and friends for less than $100 . Happy travels, Melissa Powell, Senior Product Manager, Live Search
  • April
    27

    Mint Juleps + Live Search = A Great Derby

    April showers bring May flowers, and May 2 nd brings the Run for the Roses, also known as the annual Kentucky Derby. For those not heading to Churchill Downs for “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” we’re bringing the results to you in the form of our Kentucky Derby Instant Answer. Simply type in “Kentucky Derby” and you’ll see preliminary information about the event such as the date, TV coverage, the 2008 winner, and, of course, a link to a recipe for the Derby’s traditional beverage–the Mint Julep. (What is a race without an official drink?) Be sure to check back after the race for the final results. We’ve blogged about our Instant Answers a few times, most recently for the Oscars , March Madness , and Major League Baseball . Instant Answers are designed to simplify key search tasks. With Instant Answers, we save our users from having to browse different sites to find different, specific pieces of information. As always, we welcome ideas and feedback about our Instant Answers. Theo Vachovsky, Instant Answers Product Manager, Live Search April showers bring May flowers, and May 2 nd brings the Run for the Roses, also known as the annual Kentucky Derby. For those not heading to Churchill Downs for “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” we’re bringing the results to you in the form of our Kentucky Derby Instant Answer. Simply type in “Kentucky Derby” and you’ll see preliminary information about the event such as the date, TV coverage, the 2008 winner, and, of course, a link to a recipe for the Derby’s traditional beverage–the Mint Julep. (What is a race without an official drink?) Be sure to check back after the race for the final results. We’ve blogged about our Instant Answers a few times, most recently for the Oscars , March Madness , and Major League Baseball . Instant Answers are designed to simplify key search tasks. With Instant Answers, we save our users from having to browse different sites to find different, specific pieces of information. As always, we welcome ideas and feedback about our Instant Answers. Theo Vachovsky, Instant Answers Product Manager, Live Search
  • April
    27

    Live Search is only a Phone Call Away

    We launched Live Search 411 (1-800-CALL-411 or 1-800-225-5411) in October 2007, and since then have been rolling out new features that have helped our users in all kinds of ways. There’s Business Search to find that restaurant where your friends are waiting for you. There’s Driving Directions for turn-by-turn directions to guide you there. There are Sports and Stock Quotes so you’re always prepared with a quip about the latest game and the Dow. Add Weather reports, Movie showtimes, Cheap Gas prices, and Travel resources, and you’ll never be without an umbrella, late for the matinee, stuck without fuel, or lost. Now we’re happy to announce the latest addition to our 411 family: Traffic powered by INRIX , a leading provider of traffic information. If you’re a mobile phone user, you can dial 1-800-CALL-411 and ask for Traffic to get real-time traffic reports in your vicinity or along a route. You can even personalize your experience by saving your start and end points, and then next time saying, “Home to work.” In addition to hearing about traffic incidents and slowdowns, you’ll get an estimated drive time so you can plan accordingly... Read More We launched Live Search 411 (1-800-CALL-411 or 1-800-225-5411) in October 2007, and since then have been rolling out new features that have helped our users in all kinds of ways. There’s Business Search to find that restaurant where your friends are waiting for you. There’s Driving Directions for turn-by-turn directions to guide you there. There are Sports and Stock Quotes so you’re always prepared with a quip about the latest game and the Dow. Add Weather reports, Movie showtimes, Cheap Gas prices, and Travel resources, and you’ll never be without an umbrella, late for the matinee, stuck without fuel, or lost. Now we’re happy to announce the latest addition to our 411 family: Traffic powered by INRIX , a leading provider of traffic information. If you’re a mobile phone user, you can dial 1-800-CALL-411 and ask for Traffic to get real-time traffic reports in your vicinity or along a route. You can even personalize your experience by saving your start and end points, and then next time saying, “Home to work.” In addition to hearing about traffic incidents and slowdowns, you’ll get an estimated drive time so you can plan accordingly... Read More
  • April
    23

    Take Me Out to the Ballgame

      The cherry blossoms are blooming, the birds are chirping, the sun is out, and searches for Derek Jeter have tripled since last week. That’s right sports fans. Baseball season is in full swing and fans are taking to the Internet to get their fantasy baseball fix and to find their favorite players’ stats and team standings. Mid-April for our team means it’s time to fine-tune our Instant Answer for baseball to ensure baseball fans have all the stats they want at their fingertips.   Simply type in a team’s name or specific player and you get the latest scores, schedule and stats along with recent news to stay on top of late breaking updates in baseball, like Melky Cabrera’s walk off homerun in the 14 th inning against Oakland this week.     Looks like our local Seattle Mariners are off to a great start this year. First in the American League West! You can also type in “baseball” + date to get the latest scores and schedules on that date.   We first talked about our Instant Answer feature back in October which we developed to help simplify key search tasks. As always we welcome feedback on this or any Instant Answer.     Theo Vachovsky, Instant Answers... Read More   The cherry blossoms are blooming, the birds are chirping, the sun is out, and searches for Derek Jeter have tripled since last week. That’s right sports fans. Baseball season is in full swing and fans are taking to the Internet to get their fantasy baseball fix and to find their favorite players’ stats and team standings. Mid-April for our team means it’s time to fine-tune our Instant Answer for baseball to ensure baseball fans have all the stats they want at their fingertips.   Simply type in a team’s name or specific player and you get the latest scores, schedule and stats along with recent news to stay on top of late breaking updates in baseball, like Melky Cabrera’s walk off homerun in the 14 th inning against Oakland this week.     Looks like our local Seattle Mariners are off to a great start this year. First in the American League West! You can also type in “baseball” + date to get the latest scores and schedules on that date.   We first talked about our Instant Answer feature back in October which we developed to help simplify key search tasks. As always we welcome feedback on this or any Instant Answer.     Theo Vachovsky, Instant Answers... Read More
  • April
    22

    Live Search - making it easier to go green

    Today, countries all around the globe unite to observe Earth Day , a day designated nearly 40 years ago to inspire awareness of and appreciation for our environment. Despite this long tradition, according to a study from MSN , being green still isn't all that easy. In fact, the MSN survey found that almost 70% of Americans said that they would never start composting kitchen scraps nor limit their toilet flushes to conserve water. One thing we know for sure is that Earth Day raises the collective awareness of all-things-environmental. Last year, searches for terms like "recycle," "global warming," "composting," and "conserving energy" increased substantially, and searches for "hybrid cars" increased by 1,500% on Earth Day 2008 alone. So as you embark on your quest for green knowledge today, Live Search is here for you. For those of you in the Los Angeles area, check out the Virtual Earth blog for info on how we're working with LA County to help folks determine if their property is a good candidate for solar power. For you folks in the rest of the world, here are some "green-themed" searches to help you make better decisions to live a greener (and in one case, a more stylish) lifestyle... Read More Today, countries all around the globe unite to observe Earth Day , a day designated nearly 40 years ago to inspire awareness of and appreciation for our environment. Despite this long tradition, according to a study from MSN , being green still isn't all that easy. In fact, the MSN survey found that almost 70% of Americans said that they would never start composting kitchen scraps nor limit their toilet flushes to conserve water. One thing we know for sure is that Earth Day raises the collective awareness of all-things-environmental. Last year, searches for terms like "recycle," "global warming," "composting," and "conserving energy" increased substantially, and searches for "hybrid cars" increased by 1,500% on Earth Day 2008 alone. So as you embark on your quest for green knowledge today, Live Search is here for you. For those of you in the Los Angeles area, check out the Virtual Earth blog for info on how we're working with LA County to help folks determine if their property is a good candidate for solar power. For you folks in the rest of the world, here are some "green-themed" searches to help you make better decisions to live a greener (and in one case, a more stylish) lifestyle... Read More
  • April
    20

    Hallo aus Deutschland!

    Stefan here, sitting in the Sheraton in Munich for a few days Europe-side to talk about Live Search. First up tomorrow I’ll be meeting with our Search Technology Center team here in Munich (they focus on relevance), and then we’re hosting a meet-up for some Search-minded folks in the German office. Wednesday I’ll be keynoting SMX Munich and talking to the crowd about the differences between what we have traditionally thought about how people search and some new data about what people are actually doing when they search. Then I’m off to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and Prof. Günthner’s Computational Linguistics class, both to listen and to talk about what they’re doing with search. On Thursday I’ll be giving another lecture at FH Macromedia München, and then it’s time to head back to London. (BTW, look for a tweetup announcement coming soon.) We know we have a lot of work to do in Europe to deliver incredible relevance and local experiences. I’m pumped to meet with the teams from the Search Technology Centers in Germany and the UK who are working hard on this, as well as the great institutions here in... Read More Stefan here, sitting in the Sheraton in Munich for a few days Europe-side to talk about Live Search. First up tomorrow I’ll be meeting with our Search Technology Center team here in Munich (they focus on relevance), and then we’re hosting a meet-up for some Search-minded folks in the German office. Wednesday I’ll be keynoting SMX Munich and talking to the crowd about the differences between what we have traditionally thought about how people search and some new data about what people are actually doing when they search. Then I’m off to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and Prof. Günthner’s Computational Linguistics class, both to listen and to talk about what they’re doing with search. On Thursday I’ll be giving another lecture at FH Macromedia München, and then it’s time to head back to London. (BTW, look for a tweetup announcement coming soon.) We know we have a lot of work to do in Europe to deliver incredible relevance and local experiences. I’m pumped to meet with the teams from the Search Technology Centers in Germany and the UK who are working hard on this, as well as the great institutions here in... Read More
  • April
    15

    Saving Money Just Got a Little Bit Easier

    To bring you the best of Live Search and cashback, we’ve launched an improved cashback Shopping site. The new site unifies Live Search Products (the shopping vertical within Live Search) and cashback to make it easier for you to research, compare products, and save money. Check out the new experience at Live Search Products and click on cashback and let us know what you think. There are quite a few enhancements you’ll see now that we’ve combined these two interfaces. We have improved relevance and site performance now that we’ve migrated from the legacy Jellyfish technology (a company Microsoft purchased in October 2007) to our own Live Search platform. You’ll now see reviews and Opinion Ranking on the product pages . Opinion Ranking crawls the Web for reviews, categorizes them into features, then provides ratings for those product features. You can also browse by feature and sort by ratings. We’re continuing to invest in and improve cashback over the coming months. Stay tuned — and happy shopping. Kelly Scott, Product Manager, cashback Shopping To bring you the best of Live Search and cashback, we’ve launched an improved cashback Shopping site. The new site unifies Live Search Products (the shopping vertical within Live Search) and cashback to make it easier for you to research, compare products, and save money. Check out the new experience at Live Search Products and click on cashback and let us know what you think. There are quite a few enhancements you’ll see now that we’ve combined these two interfaces. We have improved relevance and site performance now that we’ve migrated from the legacy Jellyfish technology (a company Microsoft purchased in October 2007) to our own Live Search platform. You’ll now see reviews and Opinion Ranking on the product pages . Opinion Ranking crawls the Web for reviews, categorizes them into features, then provides ratings for those product features. You can also browse by feature and sort by ratings. We’re continuing to invest in and improve cashback over the coming months. Stay tuned — and happy shopping. Kelly Scott, Product Manager, cashback Shopping
  • April
    14

    Will You Code for Green This Spring?

    The Live Search team, in partnership with the awesome Gnomedex conference, is sponsoring a developer contest called Code for Green that we hope will make a difference to the economy (Green = Money) and the Earth’s ecology (Green = Environment) long after the contest is over. To reinforce the green theme, the five winning developers will be rewarded with cash: · $10,000 and a $100 Bizspark membership for each winner in the two categories · $3,000 and a $100 Bizspark membership for three finalists How it generally works*: Beginning June 1, developers will be able to submit URLS for their contest entries at http://willcodeforgreen.gnomedex.com . These Web-based applications must use the Live Search APIs (which are free) but can also use any other technology platform or programming language in order to accomplish their ultimate purpose: 1) To help people deal with the worsening global economy (Economy category) 2) To help people improve the ecology of the planet Earth (Ecology category) You can vote for your favorite Web applications at http://willcodeforgreen.gnomedex.com until Aug 12 th . Customer appeal is one of the... Read More The Live Search team, in partnership with the awesome Gnomedex conference, is sponsoring a developer contest called Code for Green that we hope will make a difference to the economy (Green = Money) and the Earth’s ecology (Green = Environment) long after the contest is over. To reinforce the green theme, the five winning developers will be rewarded with cash: · $10,000 and a $100 Bizspark membership for each winner in the two categories · $3,000 and a $100 Bizspark membership for three finalists How it generally works*: Beginning June 1, developers will be able to submit URLS for their contest entries at http://willcodeforgreen.gnomedex.com . These Web-based applications must use the Live Search APIs (which are free) but can also use any other technology platform or programming language in order to accomplish their ultimate purpose: 1) To help people deal with the worsening global economy (Economy category) 2) To help people improve the ecology of the planet Earth (Ecology category) You can vote for your favorite Web applications at http://willcodeforgreen.gnomedex.com until Aug 12 th . Customer appeal is one of the... Read More
  • April
    14

    THE MICROSOFT “Will Code for Green” CONTEST

    OFFICIAL RULES COMMON TERMS USED IN THESE RULES: These are the official rules that govern how the Microsoft “Will Code for Green” contest will operate (“Contest”). In these rules, “we” “our” and “us” refer to Microsoft Corporation and Lockergnome Inc., the Sponsors of the Contest. “You” “yourself,” “I,” “me,” and “my” refers to an eligible Contest entrant. 1. CONTEST DESCRIPTION: This is a skill-based Contest. The object is to create a publicly-accessible Web site application or “mashup” that will provide users of the application tools and information in one of the following two content categories: 1.) How to deal with the worsening global economy (“Economy Category”) 2) How to take steps to improve the ecology of the planet Earth (“Ecology Category”) For purpose of this Contest, each Web application you create and submit in the Contest will be called an “Entry.” All eligible Entries received will be judged using the criteria below, and the judges will select winners to... Read More OFFICIAL RULES COMMON TERMS USED IN THESE RULES: These are the official rules that govern how the Microsoft “Will Code for Green” contest will operate (“Contest”). In these rules, “we” “our” and “us” refer to Microsoft Corporation and Lockergnome Inc., the Sponsors of the Contest. “You” “yourself,” “I,” “me,” and “my” refers to an eligible Contest entrant. 1. CONTEST DESCRIPTION: This is a skill-based Contest. The object is to create a publicly-accessible Web site application or “mashup” that will provide users of the application tools and information in one of the following two content categories: 1.) How to deal with the worsening global economy (“Economy Category”) 2) How to take steps to improve the ecology of the planet Earth (“Ecology Category”) For purpose of this Contest, each Web application you create and submit in the Contest will be called an “Entry.” All eligible Entries received will be judged using the criteria below, and the judges will select winners to... Read More
  • April
    06

    Like Copperfield with a Calculator

    Welcome back, dear viewers. This week we get down and dirty with one of the guys who helps understand what all you crazy searchers are really doing on the tubes. Turns out there are differences between what we say we want in search and what we actually do when searching. Martin “Dang, He Has a Cool Voice” Stoddart is here to explain the fundamentals of how we do user research and how that work affects the products you actually see. I kind of see Martin’s work like ESP, in that he divines people’s hidden needs so we can build products that they don’t know they want right now, but can’t live without when shipped. Except he doesn’t use tarot cards and incense. Stefan Weitz, Director, Live Search Welcome back, dear viewers. This week we get down and dirty with one of the guys who helps understand what all you crazy searchers are really doing on the tubes. Turns out there are differences between what we say we want in search and what we actually do when searching. Martin “Dang, He Has a Cool Voice” Stoddart is here to explain the fundamentals of how we do user research and how that work affects the products you actually see. I kind of see Martin’s work like ESP, in that he divines people’s hidden needs so we can build products that they don’t know they want right now, but can’t live without when shipped. Except he doesn’t use tarot cards and incense. Stefan Weitz, Director, Live Search
  • April
    03

    Palo Alto Semantic Web (PAWS) Meetup

    Looking for a reason to visit Silicon Valley and enjoy the sunshine ? The Powerset division of Live Search is helping to coordinate the following event: PAWS Meetup: The Semantic Demo Session Sponsored by Microsoft April 14 th 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. in Microsoft’s Mountain View offices RSVP today and bring a friend. Visit the Powerset blog for more details. Melissa Powell, Senior Product Manager, Live Search Looking for a reason to visit Silicon Valley and enjoy the sunshine ? The Powerset division of Live Search is helping to coordinate the following event: PAWS Meetup: The Semantic Demo Session Sponsored by Microsoft April 14 th 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. in Microsoft’s Mountain View offices RSVP today and bring a friend. Visit the Powerset blog for more details. Melissa Powell, Senior Product Manager, Live Search
  • April
    01

    The New Brand Has Arrived! Drum Roll Please...

    It’s a proud day for us here at Live Search. We are finally unveiling our long-awaited, updated and ready-for-today’s-internet new brand: MSN Windows Live Search on kumo@microsoft.com . We’ve done lots of customer research on each component of the new brand name, so we’re sure you will like it. Danny, it’s Microsoft.com, just like you asked for. Sort of. (We wanted you to know we were listening). For those of you who fear change, you can see we have maintained a deep connection to our past. All of it. Or something like that. And we’ve even got one of those nifty “@” signs in there that you Tweeters seem to like so much. Enjoy the new brand. Long may it prosper! Whitney Burk Director, Live Search P.S. I’m on vacation starting today (Hawaii!) so won’t be responding to any comments on this blog. Try @Live_Search on Twitter.  Someone is watching that one.  Always. It’s a proud day for us here at Live Search. We are finally unveiling our long-awaited, updated and ready-for-today’s-internet new brand: MSN Windows Live Search on kumo@microsoft.com . We’ve done lots of customer research on each component of the new brand name, so we’re sure you will like it. Danny, it’s Microsoft.com, just like you asked for. Sort of. (We wanted you to know we were listening). For those of you who fear change, you can see we have maintained a deep connection to our past. All of it. Or something like that. And we’ve even got one of those nifty “@” signs in there that you Tweeters seem to like so much. Enjoy the new brand. Long may it prosper! Whitney Burk Director, Live Search P.S. I’m on vacation starting today (Hawaii!) so won’t be responding to any comments on this blog. Try @Live_Search on Twitter.  Someone is watching that one.  Always.