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Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Bill Gates Introducing MSN Search

The MSN homepage is showing in a slightly redesigned layout, and the MSN search (which went live several days ago, and which could be tested since several months) is completely official now thanks to the letter by Bill Gates:

“Based on your feedback, we have designed the new home page to be faster, simpler, and more organized. We’ve also made MSN Search more precise and powerful, so you can quickly find the information you’re looking for.”

Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a switch on result pages which allows me to see them in English, even when that my browser’s preferred language (I’m in Germany, and I suspect there’s some forced geo-location going on).
However, the RSS buttons on search results are highly visible at the bottom and a nice add-on. It’s also nice of to try to use XHTML1.0 Strict (they fail, with 130 errors, but it’s a start), and respect certain accessibility issues (e.g. you can tab-forward through the different search types).

Another new gimmick on is the style-switcher. In the upper left you can click on either “Simple White” or “Classic Blue” to see the whole page change its design. This looks more like a proof-of-concept than something visitors would actively use, and it’s strange how MSN wouldn’t simply implement this by offering alternate style-sheets – a standard W3C technology built right into browsers such as Firefox.

In the end MSN, after Yahoo, is the second “real” competition to Google, but just like Yahoo it’s also too cluttered to count as pure search engine.


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