Windows Live, the planned search system that will be integrated with the desktop in the next version of Windows, has now come out of beta (though at the time of writing the URLs generated by the searches still have “beta” in the address!)
This seems to herald the next major change in Microsoft’s attempts to compete with Google in the field of search. MSN results have been more than a little erratic in the last few weeks and the suspicion is that they were moving over to the new results generated by the Windows Live search engine. In some ways this is a pity, as the MSN results were refreshingly direct in their approach. If you had the content then you could get the ranking. There are times when the amount of anti-spam effort that Google puts in, plus their link-based emphasis, makes their results seem over refined and biased towards commercial sites – they seem to miss interesting new sites with fresh content for far too long. We must hope that MSN/Windows Live doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The other aspect of Windows Live is the local search capability. It’s probably too early to tell how effective this is – a check from an Edinburgh base was throwing adverts at me for London and Australian SEO companies but that may just be teething troubles. They seem to have an interesting method of tracking where you are situated by using Wi-Fi data or IP address, though privacy concerns may make some users reluctant to sign up for those.