MSN Search's WebLog points out that MSN Search is now home to more Instant Answers (aka "direct answers") as web search engines continue to become "answer engines" for certain types of queries. According to the blog post, MSN has added more than one million facts to their database.
+ Baseball Stats: Numerous statistics for historical baseball players and teams along with season data for current players. Stats from Baseball-Reference.com.
+ Football stats: Many lifetime and season facts for popular players and coaches. Stats come from Pro-Football-Reference.com.
+ Weather Statistics: Weather statistics for US states and major cities. Data from NOAA.
+ Government officials: Government leaders and world cabinet officials. Some data via Encarta other data via the CIA's Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments database. This database is updated weekly.
More examples in the blog post. Instant Answer results are found near the top of the page directly below the paid lists/sponsored sites.
In 2005 we saw Yahoo, AOL,
Google, and MSN Search get more involved in the direct answer space (Y and G have offered some search shortcuts for several years) while Ask Jeeves (they've been offering Smart Answers since 2003) continued to develop and more of them.