Microsoft has licensed the LookSmart directory for integration into its MSN Search service, through a five-year deal announced on February 9.
Currently, MSN Search results come entirely from Inktomi. But over the coming months, relevant LookSmart data will begin to precede crawler-based results, which themselves will later be supplied by AltaVista.
Most services that draw results from both a human-compiled directory and a crawler-based index make a delineation between the two. MSN Search doesn't intend to do this with its directory results.
For instance, do a search at Yahoo, and there's a clear separation between web site results from the Yahoo directory and web page matches from the Inktomi search engine. This also happens at Snap, Infoseek and LookSmart itself. In contrast, MSN Search won't draw a line between the two.
"It will be a unified user experience that seamlessly knits together both worlds," said Bill Bliss, general manager of MSN Search. "What's the difference between a 'site' and a 'web page'? Absolutely nothing, except that a site comes from one database and a web page comes from another. That's the key distinction we are not making, because we don't believe it's a useful one for users to understand."
MSN Search will also debut what looks to be an impressive save results feature this month, in conjunction with the Internet Explorer 5 release planned for March 18. The new browser also has a number of new search enhancements, including Alexa-powered related links.
I'll be reviewing these in more depth next month, as well as checking back on Netscape's Smart Browsing features. In short, there have been a lot of advances from both companies along these fronts, and I've been extremely impressed by some of the results that they provide.
FYI, for those that have been submitting to LookSmart, the company says that the mass publication of user submitted sites being held in the system is about four to six weeks away. RealNames links are also active on the system. If you are looking for them, when available, they appear between the LookSmart directory results (matches from "world" or "around the world") and the AltaVista web results (matches from "entire web").
IE5 will be available from this link on March 18.
See the type of results you'll get when searching from the address line within Internet Explorer 5.
Don't have Netscape Communicator 4 or higher? Check out the type of results it provides when searching from the address line.
Another Start for Indefatigable MSN
Internet World, Feb. 15, 1999
MSN has launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign to promote the new MSN, which is trying more than ever to increase connectivity between its various sites.
LookSmart Launches Local Search, Plans Directory Expansion
The Search Engine Update, Dec. 22, 1998
Mass publication of user submitted sites at LookSmart -- what's that? If you don't know, this article explains.