Microsoft leaks its own search plans

An employee posts details on version 2.0 of "Live Search," ahead of a big event next week in Silicon Valley.

A Microsoft employee has posted details about planned changes to Microsoft's Live Search, ahead of an event next week where the company was slated to unveil the changes to reporters.

The changes to the search product, which were demonstrated at Microsoft's companywide meeting earlier this month, include improvements in several specific types of search queries, notably in video search and in searches for products.

In a blog posting on Thursday, Windows Live program manager Akram Hussein demonstrated how the revamped Live Search handles searches for digital cameras, showing not just product details, but also reviews. The new search scrapes details from other sites that have user reviews and other information and presents it from within the search engine.

Microsoft has since taken down the blog, but the folks at Liveside.net managed to capture the images and the details Hussein provided. Microsoft plans to brief reporters at a "Searchification" event next week at its Mountain View, Calif., campus.

Hussein also showed a new celebrity search page, demonstrating how a query of "Brad Pitt" includes a rating system of how popular he is at the moment, dubbed his "celebrity xRank."

Finally, Hussein outlined an improved video search that allows a motion preview of a video search result.

"You can preview videos online by moving your mouse over any video and it will play a preview of the video right away no delays!" he wrote. "Isn't this amazing, at least now you can preview the video before really going and trying to view it, and make sure this is the one you want."

Some of the changes to Live Search have been gradually appearing on the site in recent days.

Hussein, in an apology note that replaced his original blog posting, said his images came from a test build. "Just to notify everyone I apologize for the information it seems they are still in beta and it was like a test roll out so I am pulling off the blog post," he said.

The changes come as Microsoft is struggling to make headway against market leaders Google and Yahoo.

ComScore released its August search results on Friday, showing that Microsoft lost a percentage point of market share compared with July, attracting 12.3 percent of searches. Google gained more than a point, to hold 56.5 percent of the market, while Yahoo slipped two-tenths of a percentage point, to 23.3 percent.

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