Microsoft's Search Engine Way Behind Google? Must be the Name!

By  |  Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 9:41 am

Kumo LogoThe Wall Street Journal’s Nick Wingfield has a story up in which Microsoft’s Yusef Mehdi says that blind taste tests the company conducts show that consumers find the results from its Live Search search engine to be indistinguishable from Google results. But when Microsoft slaps the Google logo on Live Search results–in a sort of reversal of its Mojave Project prank–consumers like them better than when they know they’re from Microsoft.

Could be–although I use Live Search enough to know that I don’t find its results indistinguishable from Google’s, or as good. It’s unfair to judge a search engine based on one result, but here’s one that matters to me: If you google search Live Search for “technologizer”, its first result is our terms of service, and the Technologizer home page isn’t even on the first page of links. Every other major search engine manages to figure out that the single best result for “technologizer” is unquestionably www.technologizer.com.

That’s kind of emblematic of my experiences with Live Search, and it’s part of why I don’t go out of my way to use it. And that’s the challenge for Microsoft or any other company that wants to take on Google in search: They have to figure out how to convince consumers to go out of their way to use them.

Microsoft has a long history of changing the names of underperforming products (and sometimes of products that are doing just fine). I can’t remember an instance of the change being a clear improvement, and changing the names of things never makes them better. But in this case, a switch might be in order: Microsoft’s whole “Live” branding initiative has little traction, and it’s just confusing. The Journal’s story says that Microsoft plans to spend a lot of money promoting its search engine in the future, but has no revelations about a name switch to Kumo or Bing or anything else.

But even though either name might be an improvement on Live Search, I already have visions of consumers liking Kumo or Bing search results better when Microsoft tells them that the results are from Google…

 
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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Michel Vuijlsteke Says:

    Technologizer.com is the second link when I do the same search. First is the TOS.

  2. flannel Says:

    Here is another experiment.

    Search the term ‘home’ on live.com – my first result is homes.com
    same search in google and homedepot.com is first.

    Me… I prefer the live.com version 🙂

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