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Microsoft veteran launches Twitter search engine

Ken Moss, who once headed Microsoft's search engine unit, is launching the beta of CrowdEye, an engine that tries to offer a better way to mine Twitter.

Created by former Microsoft search head Ken Moss, CrowdEye gives several views of a topic based on the conversations taking place on Twitter. CNET

The former head of Microsoft's search unit may have left Redmond, but he is still very much in the search game.

Ken Moss, who led the search engineering team at Microsoft for five years, has spent the last months building CrowdEye, a real-time search engine that aims to allow users to better mine Twitter to get a pulse on hot topics.

The service, which is going into public beta on Thursday, offers up not only the latest tweets on a topic, but also a list of the most popular links on a topic and a tag cloud of associated terms.

Moss CrowdEye

"I think that real-time search is the next big thing in search," Moss said in a telephone interview. "It's an area that has been underexploited to date."

Searching Twitter is good for news, he said, but also for things such as finding the latest viral video or a solution to a new software bug.

Of course, Moss is not alone in this thinking. Twitter has its own search engine, while others such as Topsy and OneRiot, are also mining the twitterverse.

Among its features, CrowdEye has a historical view that allows one to see how the discussion on a topic has evolved. Although, for now, that historical period is only three days.

"Right now that's all we support, but its definitely something I'd anticipate growing over time," Moss said.

Moss has been working on CrowdEye for about nine months. For now, his only other co-worker is his wife, Becca Moss, also a former 'softie.

"Right now it is still the two of us for now, but we hope to expand that soon," Moss said.

Moss said he looks forward to listening to feedback once the product goes public and already has a long to-do list of things he would like to add, things such as adding more real-time sources beyond twitter.

"I think there's a very long list of exciting improvements that will take us a long while," he said.

The plan to launch CrowdEye was noted earlier by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley and on Seattle-area news site TechFlash.