Via Threadwatch, Microsoft Gets Social from BusinessWeek has news that Microsoft may be buying or partnering with Eurekster to bring social search features to its MSN Window Live Search service. An question answering service is also coming.
What's MSN Windows Live Search, by the way? Since Microsoft doesn't seem to know if we're supposed to use Windows Live Search (launched last month) or MSN Search (launched in 1998), MSN Windows Live Search is my name for covering both bases at once. Personally, I like how it preserves the MSN brand while adding yet another word to the search service's name. It rolls off the tongue. I'm going to go MSNWindowsLiveSearch someone or something right now.
BusinessWeek confuses the forthcoming Q&A tool with social search. Those are two completely different types of search features/services, of which Q&A is the least important. In fact, it just reeks of another "me too" move that's not going to budge MSN Windows Live Search's usage among searchers.
I mean, LookSmart Live never took off after being launched in 1999. Neither did Ask's Answer Point, which came out in 2000. Google Answers, which was kicked off in 2002 the same week Answer Point closed only generated 0.01 percent of Google visits in November. Yahoo Answers was launched only in December, so perhaps it will grow. But it probably won't. Wondir is still going, but it's hardly had the growth and notice of some social sites like YouTube.
Real social/personalized search coming to MSNWLS is much more important, because it really is something I expect will take us into that next generational jump. Eurekster certainly has plenty of experience in the space, having ushered in the current round of social search attention since it launched back in 2004.
Here are some key stories from me on social and personalized search, if you really want to come up to speed on changes:
Hit Debuts Personalized Search
Launches Personalized Social Search
Search Personalization: A Marketer's Perspective
Relaunches Personal Search - This Time, It Really Is Personal
- Yahoo My Web: An eBay For Knowledge
FYI, this will be MSN's second time around with a social search feature. In 1999, they carried Direct Hit results, which was a rudimentary form of social search based on tracking aggregate clicks. Direct Hit results were dropped sometime before 2002.