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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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June 15, 2009 5:05 PM

Microsoft files its first click fraud lawsuit

Posted by Sharon Chan

Microsoft is suing two brothers and their mother in Vancouver, B.C., for $750,000 after the company said the three engaged in online ad fraud to boost traffic to their auto insurance and World of Warcraft Web sites.

According to a civil case Microsoft filed Monday in the Western District of the U.S. District Court, Eric Lam, his brother Gordon Lam and their mother Melanie Suen used click fraud to increase their rankings on Microsoft's search engine Live Search.

Advertisers paid for placement on Microsoft's former search engine Live Search, now known as Bing. When a user entered a search term such as "auto insurance," advertisers bid for sponsored placement in the results. Each time a user clicks on an advertiser's link, the advertiser pays Microsoft. The cost per click ranges from five cents to hundreds of dollars depending on the desirability of the search term, according to court documents.

In click fraud, a person or computer program repeatedly clicks on a link without any interest in the Web site. It can be used to exhaust the ad budget of a competitor, and lower that site's placement in the rankings of the search results.

According to the court documents, the Lams and their mother engaged in click fraud in spring 2008 for advertisers who paid for placement for the search terms "auto insurance" and "WoW," short for the online game World of Warcraft. The Lams' Web site,, sold game gold that could be traded in the online game.

I am trying to get in touch with the Lams to get their comments.

Update 6:35 p.m.: Gordon Lam declined to comment on the story by phone.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Bing , Legal issues , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 11, 2009 2:29 PM

Microsoft launches Hulu-style Web ads for IE8 featuring Dean Cain

Posted by Sharon Chan

In the surreal, ominous style of Hulu, Microsoft has released two online ads to market its latest browser, Internet Explorer 8. Microsoft's ads feature actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on "Lois & Clark."

Microsoft will also make donations to food banks every time someone downloads the new browser. For each download at, Microsoft says it will donate the equivalent of 8 meals to Feeding America, a national network of food banks, between now and Aug. 8.

Here the new browser ads, and for comparison's sake, the Hulu ad with Alec Baldwin.

F.O.M.S. ad (Fear of Missing Something):

S.H.Y.N.E.S.S. ad (Sharing Heavily Yet Not Enough Sharing Still):

Hulu ad:

Comments | Category: Advertising , Internet Explorer , Microsoft , Search , Web browsers |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 8, 2009 11:47 AM

Blind testing search from Microsoft, Google and Yahoo

Posted by Sharon Chan

Would a rose by any other name smell sweeter? blindsearchscreen.jpg

Silicon Valley Insider found this site over the weekend: BlindSearch. It compares search results in a blind test, then reveals which search engine the results came from: Microsoft's Bing, Google or Yahoo. The site says it was built by Microsoft employee Michael Kordahi as an experiment.

Kordahi previously posted the survey results but says on the site that someone was gaming the system and he had to take it down.

Microsoft rebranded its search engine as Bing last week, and many company executives kept repeating that in their market research, customers who were given Microsoft search results disguised as Google results preferred Microsoft search.

Try it yourself.

Comments | Category: Bing , Google , Microsoft , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 4, 2009 6:02 PM

More Microsoft TV ads promoting its search engine Bing (update on an oops)

Posted by Sharon Chan

Here is the next round of TV commercials Microsoft is airing to make some headway in online search. The ads all criticize Google without actually naming the search leader, claiming that using Google's search engine results in an overload of results that don't get you the answer you want.

On a side note, our reliable Seattle Times copy desk caught an error in one of the ads, which I had quoted in a story, saying "The Breakfast Club" came out in 1986. According to all the searches our copy editors did, the film came out in 1985. (A search for "breakfast club release date" on Wolfram Alpha, Google and Bing all point to 1985.) I've called Microsoft to see if its plans to change the ad and it said they will get back to me.

Update Friday 12:36 p.m.: Microsoft says they are going to change the ad so it reflects the correct year, and highlighted that Bing returns the correct date in its search results.

Here is the ad that cites "The Breakfast Club":

And two other ads, which we have not fact-checked:

Comments | Category: Advertising , Bing , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 3, 2009 12:40 PM

Microsoft's TV search ad: So You Think You Can Bing

Posted by Sharon Chan

If you're watching "So You Think You Can Dance" at 8 p.m. today, keep an eye out for Microsoft's first TV ads for its upgraded search engine Bing. (The company has dubbed it a "decision engine.") It will also air during "CSI: NY," the Jimmy Fallon show and on several cable networks.

News reports estimate that Microsoft is spending $80 million to $100 million on advertising to create a new search brand where it previously faltered with Live and MSN, The company has declined to comment on the ad budget.

The ad campaign highlights confusion that can spring from search results. Here's the video:

Comments | Category: Advertising , Bing , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 3, 2009 9:52 AM

Microsoft's Qi Lu talks about Bing

Posted by Sharon Chan

bizqilu10.jpgUser intent, user intent, user intent.

That was the message Qi Lu, head of Microsoft's online division, brought to his keynote this morning at SMX Advanced, a search marketing conference at Bell Harbor Conference Center that started Tuesday.

The keynote began with a television commercial for Microsoft's upgraded search engine, Bing, which the company plans to air tonight. The ad jumps among several people asking search questions ("I want two tickets to paradise" is one.) in accelerating cuts that ends with the onscreen question, "What has search overload done to us?"

Lu then did a Q&A with Daniel Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land. Here are some excerpts of Lu's comments at the event:

On the development of Bing:
"Bing as a product took a very distinct differential approach. What we would like to offer is rich and more organized user experience so we enable users to complete tasks more efficiently and make more informed decisions faster."

On the future of search:
"if you have heavy R&D investment, if you have those infrastructure R&D, we will be able to model computationally user intent. The other important trend is the [shrinking] barrier for producing content. The Web gets richer and richer. It starts out with links, then there's images, now you have Facebook and Twitter. We're able to understand user intent very well over the next few years and Web gets richer and richer. You're able to build user experience that's vastly more compelling than today. While no one has a crystal ball on how future plays out, I firmly believe the best way to predict the future is to create one."

On the brand name "Bing":
"We have teams of experts going through very extensive processes looking at all the choices. We wanted something short, easy to pronounce, very easy to come up with URL. You want brand to be very accessible on the Internet. The brand also has to work well across the world."

On how Microsoft, which has 8 percent of the search market, will gain market share against Google, which has 62 percent, according to most recent rankings from comScore:
"We believe search is still relatively very nascent. There is a whole lot more that can be done. The search experience in next few years can be a lot more compelling. The second, ultimately, the real strengths you compete in search space has to be based on strength of product, quality of experience. ... Over time the best product will sell itself."

On status of talks between Microsoft and Yahoo on a search partnership:
"The best person to ask that question is [AllThingsD's blogger] Kara Swisher. Obviously I don't think I can say anything beyond what's out there. ... It won't be proper for me to speculate on what would happen, so I will just have to leave it to everybody's imagination what would happen."

(2008 Photo of Qi Lu: Marshall Miller/Microsoft)

Comments | Category: Bing , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 1, 2009 5:06 PM

Look for Space Needle spotlight on Tuesday night

Posted by Sharon Chan

spaceneedle.JPGTo mark the launch of Microsoft's upgraded search engine Bing, the Space Needle will be sending a beam of light into the sky on Tuesday starting at 10 p.m. The company will also hoist a Microsoft Bing flag atop the needle.

While the preview of the Bing began today at, the company will wrap up some back-end engineering work, invisible to most users, and officially launch the search engine on Wednesday.

According to Advertising Age, Microsoft plans to spend $80 million to $100 million to market Bing. Executives have acknowledged that a poor consumer brand dogged its previous search efforts, branded Live Search. In April, Microsoft accounted for 8 percent of all share traffic, compared to Google's share of 64 percent, according to comScore.

(Photo credit: Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Comments | Category: Bing , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 1, 2009 10:49 AM

Early reviews of Microsoft's Bing search engine

Posted by Sharon Chan

bing.jpgThe launch of Bing, Microsoft's upgraded search engine, was all drum roll without a cymbal crash last week. The company announced it would be launching a new version, but Bing would not officially launch until Wednesday.

A preview version went up this morning at Here are some early reviews from around the Web:

ArsTechnica says there is much to like, as well as some frustration.

TechCrunch reports positive reader comments, including "Holly [sic] crap, it doesn't suck."

CNET also seems won over by Bing.

The reviews are an early positive sign for Microsoft, which trails mightily in the search market. Google held 64 percent of all searches in April according to comScore. Microsoft's share was 8.2 percent. Microsoft is calling Bing a decision engine.

Have you tried it out yet? Post reviews to the comments section.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 28, 2009 9:25 AM

Can Microsoft get a big bang out of Bing?

Posted by Mark Watanabe

As expected, Microsoft took the wraps off its overhauled search engine this morning, introducing a new brand name, Bing.

The Wall Street Journal reported online that Chief Executive Steve Ballmer was demonstrating Bing at the Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. Here's Microsoft's release on the introduction.

The Journal's report said the search engine, which has been called Live Search, will sport a new look next week when it goes online. In addition, it is being designed to give users "access to a range of categories of search" and that Microsoft is targeting four distinct categories: shopping, local, travel and health.

Whether Bing can cut into Google's overwhelming lead in search will be one of the most closely watched issues in tech.

Bing will attempt to accomplish this by adding more features to Microsoft's search. Among other things, Microsoft is adding Bing Travel to the site -- a combination of technology from Farecast and content from MSN Travel designed to help people in making travel plans. Microsoft acquired Seattle-based Farecast, an airfare prediction Web site, in April 2008.

Separately, BusinessWeek has an interesting interview with Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's Online Services Division who came to the company from Yahoo. In it, Lu gives a broad outline of where Microsoft thinks there are opportunities to advance search beyond what Google has accomplished:

"When you see a query box, you type in it. [The assumption is that] it will give you what you want. But [consumers'] expectations have increased. They are using that search box for all kinds of things: to purchase product, to plan a vacation, to research a particular organization, to study a particular concept."

Lu also says he came to Microsoft because the company has the resources to invest in infrastructure and "a world-class R&D team that has top-notch experts in all the critical disciplines."

Oh, yes, one more thing: Fortune magazine columnist Stanley Bing has a few words to say this morning on brands and brand names, including his own.

Update, 4:36 p.m.: The Live Search team (presumably that now becomes the Bing team?), responded to Stanley Bing's call to work out their differences by accepting Bing's (the person's) offer of services. The team's blog said:

After an emergency meeting (three people were invited, all declined), we've decided to take you up on your offer. We're not certain what exactly this would involve. We're not certain it would pay much (nothing, actually) but we look forward to starting a dialogue and hope we can work together soon. Let's do lunch.

Listen up and you can hear the badda bing.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Branding , Digital media , Google , Microsoft , Search , Steve Ballmer , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 26, 2009 9:10 AM

Get ready to hear a lot about Bing, says Ad Age

Posted by Mark Watanabe

It looks like Microsoft's long-awaited revamp of Live Search is about to unfurl.

Last week, word leaked out that the company would be unveiling its updated search engine, code-named Kumo, at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, which takes place this week in Carlsbad, Calif. Steve Ballmer is on the roster of speakers.

Today, Advertising Age is reporting that Microsoft is launching the update, to be called Bing, with an $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign. Compare that with what Ad Age says is considered a "sizable budget" for a national consumer product launch, $50 million. JWT, one of the ad industry's major players, is handling the campaign.

One prominent part of the upgrade is expected to be a branding change. Speculation has centered on the code name, Kumo, but last week a leading search analyst, Danny Sullivan, said he thought the new brand would be Bing.

Despite the typical big-budget effort Microsoft appears to be setting up, the company faces a monumental challenge in going after a market leader whose name is virtually a generic term for Internet searching. In the latest monthly reports Google continued to hold a commanding 64.2 percent of the U.S. search market in April. Microsoft's Live Search remained languishing in third at 8.2 percent, behind Yahoo with 20.4 percent.

Whether the campaign can equal or better the impact that Microsoft's ads appear to making in the company's battle with Apple over laptop PC sales will be one of the closely watched issues in tech for a spell.

Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Branding , Digital media , Google , Microsoft , Search , Windows Live |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 15, 2009 9:47 AM

Morning Microsoft news roundup: search stats, Yahoo layoffs, Zune phone

Posted by Sharon Chan

  • TechCrunch has the latest search traffic stats for the first quarter that show Microsoft losing 1.1 percent over the same period last year.
  • Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet is speculating on plans for a Zune phone, code named Pink, to compete with iPhone.

Comments | Category: Mobile , News roundup , Search , Yahoo , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 13, 2009 12:48 PM

Free Microsoft software training for 30,000 in Washington state

Posted by Sharon Chan

Microsoft will offer 30,000 vouchers for free software training to help people in Washington get learn how to use Microsoft software.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith made the announcement this morning at a press conference at the YWCA Opportunity Place in downtown Seattle. Microsoft first announced its job training program, Elevate America, in February and Washington is the first state to roll it out.

"We have thought long and hard about how do we come out of this deep recession stronger and better prepared for the 21st century," Gregoire said.

Both employed or unemployed people are eligible for the vouchers, which can be used to take online courses, worth $100 to $300, or certification testing, which is worth $85. Click here to sign up between now and May.

Vouchers expire in July. People will need an Internet-connected computer to access the training. People without computers can get access to one at centers such as the YWCA's Opportunity Place.

"It will help people who are unemployed get skills needed to get their next job, and it will help people employed to keep their jobs and get the skills they need," Smith said. He estimated the economic value of the vouchers at $3 million at the low end.

In separate news, Smith declined to comment on reports that Microsoft and Yahoo are talking about a search partnership.

He also said there has been no change in outlook on layoffs at Microsoft. The company still plans to cut 5,000 total jobs through 2010, including the 1,400 announced in January. Smith also said the company still plans to create 2,000 new jobs in that period.

Comments | Category: Employees , Microsoft layoffs , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 2, 2009 2:45 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Ad campaign in works for Microsoft search; Office on iPhone?; Inside Google's data centers

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Advertising Age reports that JWT, which has been getting more business from Microsoft of late, has landed an $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign for the company's Internet search service, which is expected to undergo a major rebranding later this year. The story says the campaign is expected to begin in June. Microsoft's search team had some April Fool's fun Wednesday, poking at its branding troubles with a post announcing the debut of "MSN Windows Live Search on"

Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, indicated an Office application that would let Apple iPhone users edit documents could be in the works. Asked at the Web 2.0 Expo today about a mobile edition of Office for the iPhone, Elop said, "Not yet -- keep watching," according to this eWeek story.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Advertising , Data centers , Google , News roundup , Office , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 24, 2009 3:45 PM

Microsoft adds instant flight status to Internet search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Live search flight status.JPGMicrosoft is finding another use for the technology it acquired a year ago with the purchase of Seattle travel startup Farecast. The company has added a new capability to its Live Search engine, allowing users to input just a flight number into the Live Search box and get flight status information -- powered by Farecast and FlightStats -- in return.

I tested it out just now with a Virgin America flight. Seems to work pretty well.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 15, 2009 6:45 PM

Is Hotmail now redirecting to Live Search instead of MSN?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Maybe this isn't new, but I just signed out of my Hotmail account and was redirected to a Live Search homepage. I'm pretty sure when I did that on Friday it sent me to the MSN home page, as it has done for about as long as I can remember. Is anybody else noticing this change? It might not be a bad way to expose more people to Live Search, which just recorded its weakest market share in 12 months.

Update, 9:15 p.m.: Emil Protalinski, who covers Microsoft for Ars Technica, points out that noted this change last week. Kip Kniskern wrote, "Sending people to visit the page seems like a no brainer to get them to try out Live Search, although the advertisers on might not be too happy."

It looks like this is being rolled out in stages. Two commenters tried it and were not successfully redirected to

Update, Monday, 8:01 a.m.: Microsoft spokeswoman Whitney Burk tells me via e-mail, "Yes we're testing it on a small portion of our traffic. From time to time, we run these types of small scale experiments to test what the best experiences are for customers."

Comments | Category: MSN , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 13, 2009 2:41 PM

Microsoft Live Search share drops to 12-month low; Will rebranding it help?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's U.S. Internet search share dropped to 8.2 percent in February, its lowest point in 12 months, according to data from market researcher comScore. Yahoo was also down month-over-month to 20.6 percent. And Google gained market share, reaching 63.3 percent in February.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is continuing internal testing of a new brand for its search engine. has a screen-shot of the home page.

Comments | Category: Branding , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 25, 2009 2:51 PM

What Ballmer said about Yahoo and what others are saying about search deals

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

After a fairly quiet few weeks following the one-year anniversary of Microsoft's bid to buy the Internet giant, a couple of reports in the past day or so, plus an utterance from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, have stirred the Microsoft-Yahoo pot. Let's start with facts and move on to speculation and unnamed sources.

Ballmer, during a strategic update meeting with Wall Street analysts, discussed the broader Internet search market, the tall order his company faces against Google and his continuing hope of joining forces in some manner with Yahoo:

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search , Steve Ballmer , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 25, 2009 10:50 AM

Microsoft news roundup: OEM exec says Windows 7 in September, October; Google wants to join EC antitrust proceedign against Microsoft; wrapping up TechFest

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

"According to current planning, it should be late September or early October." That's what Ray Chen, president of a Tapei OEM, Compal Electronics, told Bloomberg about when Microsoft may begin shipping Windows 7. That would put it ahead of Microsoft's officially stated schedule, which has the new OS due by January 2010. But it would match some observers' expectations that Microsoft will have Windows 7 available in time for the 2009 holiday season.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Google , Internet Explorer , Legal issues , Natural user interface , News roundup , Research , Search , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 24, 2009 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be 'imprudent'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With Microsoft's Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a "reset" rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses -- a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company's annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly -- say to $20 billion -- would be "imprudent."

"I think this is right," Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft's corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns -- particularly those driven by "deleveraging." The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. "RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model," Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Enterprise , Financial , Games & entertainment , Google , Microsoft layoffs , Mobile , Office , Online services , Open source , Search , Server and tools , Steve Ballmer , Strategy , Tech Economy , Windows , Windows 7 , Windows Azure , Windows Mobile , Xbox 360 , Yahoo acquisition , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 18, 2009 5:31 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Obama's antitrust nominee calls Microsoft 'so last century'; Google sued for starving 'nascent competition'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

President Barack Obama's nominee to head the antitrust division at the U.S. Department of Justice isn't interested in Microsoft, according to comments she made last summer. "For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem," Christine Varney said during a June 19 American Antitrust Institute panel discussion, according to Bloomberg. The U.S. economy will "continually see a problem -- potentially with Google" because it already "has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising," she said.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Advertising , Google , Legal issues , Public policy & issues , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 29, 2009 5:18 PM

Microsoft has posted 72 job openings in Washington since layoffs announced

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A week ago, Microsoft announced its first companywide layoff, letting go 1,400 people as part of a plan to cut up to 5,000 jobs in the next 18 months. But the company made clear it would continue hiring, perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 people, in strategically important areas. And judging by its U.S. online jobs site, it intends to. A search of the site for positions in Washington state brought back 72 openings posted since Jan. 22, the day the layoffs were announced.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Advertising , Coming and going , Google , Halo , MSN , Microsoft layoffs , Mobile , Online services , Recruiting , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 28, 2009 10:38 AM

Bartz on selling parts of Yahoo: 'This is not a company that needs to be pulled apart and left for the chickens'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Carol Bartz, Yahoo's new CEO, was peppered Tuesday with questions about a potential search deal with Microsoft or another go at partnering with AOL-Time Warner. Here are some of her choice exchanges with financial analysts during a conference call after the Internet company reported a loss in the fourth quarter.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Personalities , Search , Yahoo , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 16, 2009 4:17 PM

Search market largely unchanged in December as Yahoo, Microsoft execs meet

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

ComScore's U.S. Internet search share report shows the major players had were little changed in December. Google is still the leader, far and away, with 63.5 percent of the market, unchanged from November. Yahoo, according to comScore, gained a smidge to 20.5 percent. Microsoft continued along in third place with 8.3 percent.

Meanwhile, The New York Times and Valleywag report on a meeting in New York City earlier this week between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock. This follows an informal discussion between Ballmer and Yahoo's new CEO, Carol Bartz, at some point since she was picked for the post by the Yahoo board.

These high-level contacts have of course fueled speculation that Yahoo and Microsoft are working toward some sort of search deal.

Comments | Category: Search , Yahoo , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 14, 2009 5:23 PM

Microsoft says unique Internet search users up by 'several million' as Nielsen reports its total queries declined

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A review of tracking firm Nielsen Online's Internet search market share figures for the past three months shows a troubling trend for Microsoft. The company has seen double-digit declines in the number of searches performed on its search engine. December figures, released today, show a 15.5 percent decline in U.S. search queries conducted on Live Search, since December 2008. Total queries increased 19.6 percent in the same period. Nielsen says Microsoft had 9.8 percent of the U.S. market, compared with Google's 62.9 percent and Yahoo's 16.8. (See Nielsen's report here: PDF.)

Whitney Burk, a spokeswoman with Live Search, said Microsoft's own data paints a brighter picture.

"It's true there's been a decline in share, however our internal numbers indicate that from a unique user perspective, we've actually grown by several million" unique users, year over year, she said in an e-mail.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 7, 2009 6:30 PM

CES: Microsoft announces Windows 7 beta, partnerships with Verizon, Dell, Facebook

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is set to take the stage here now. Here's a rundown of the news he's planning to announce, along with some analysis, based on an advanced briefing from Microsoft and an interview earlier today with Robbie Bach, president of the company's Entertainment and Devices Division, who is expected to join Ballmer on stage. Check back for color from the speech and any surprises.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Consumer Electronics Show , Games & entertainment , Mobile , Search , Steve Ballmer , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 7, 2009 12:13 PM

Report: Silicon Valley execs, bankers crafting proposal to buy Yahoo, sell search to Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

If this comes to pass, it's a great scoop for Tech Crunch: The Web site is reporting on a complex proposal by "well known Silicon Valley executives and top investment bankers" to seek financing from Microsoft for a purchase of Yahoo. They would immediately sell Yahoo's search business, which Microsoft has coveted publicly for nearly a year now, to Microsoft and install a new executive team to operate Yahoo.

[Update, 2:09 p.m.: A Microsoft spokesman said the company is not commenting on the report.]

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search , Yahoo , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 7, 2009 10:59 AM

Bloomberg: Microsoft search to be on Verizon Wireless phones

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bloomberg is reporting that Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, told an investor conference today that Verizon Wireless is partnering with Microsoft "to provide Web browsing services to mobile-phone users, beating out search leader Google Inc." Details are expected during Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote speech here at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Check back here at that time for complete coverage of this and other Microsoft announcements.

Comments | Category: Consumer Electronics Show , Mobile , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 30, 2008 9:57 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Windows 7 Beta tracking, 'Tough Love' for Search, year-in-preview

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Windows 7 logo illustration by Seattle Times graphics artist Gabriel Campanario.

Several stories today are tracking the status of Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft's flagship operating system. Mary Jo Foley, who watches the OS as closely as anyone, states that a test version of 7 "is poised to make its public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show" next week in Las Vegas. She notes that Microsoft has said this test version, Beta 1, will be "feature complete."

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: News roundup , Philanthropy , Search , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 19, 2008 2:07 PM

Microsoft's U.S. search market share down slightly in November; Google dominates ad-serving market

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's Live Search service had 8.3 percent of the U.S. search market in November, down from 8.5 percent in October, according to figures released by comScore. Yahoo's share slipped a bit, too, down from 20.5 percent in October to 20.5 20.4 percent in November. Market-leader Google again stretched its lead, gaining 0.4 percentage points to finish November with 63.5 percent.

Another market-share study puts Google in the drivers seat for serving ads.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 10, 2008 7:39 AM

Profile: Qi Lu, Microsoft's incoming Online Services Group president

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Check out this profile of Qi Lu, the former Yahoo search executive who is taking over a critical group at Microsoft in January, from today's paper. Also, after the jump, Microsoft has published its own Q&A with Lu, covering his reasons for coming to Microsoft, how Steve Ballmer recruited him, what opportunities he sees for Microsoft in search and more.

If Microsoft has to climb over or through Yahoo to get to Google in the Internet search business, there are few people better positioned than Qi Lu to lead the way.

Named last week as president of Microsoft's Online Services Group, Lu brings with him practically the entire history of Yahoo's search efforts.

"Qi was there from the very beginning," said a former Yahoo colleague who worked closely with him for several years and agreed to speak about Lu and his role at Yahoo only on condition of anonymity.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Coming and going , Google , Personalities , Recruiting , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 6, 2008 12:58 PM

Hiring of new Microsoft exec Qi Lu strikes diversity chord

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Qi Lu, highest ranking Chinese American in Microsoft history.

Here's a story from today's paper with more reaction to the news this week that Microsoft has filled a strategically critical leadership role:
Chinese Americans at Microsoft and in the community cheered the appointment of Qi Lu as president of the company's Online Services Group, noting the significance of his arrival at the highest ranks of the company.

"When people look at their own career potential in a company, they always look at if there is someone like them in the senior leadership team," said Weina Wang, chairwoman of Chinese Microsoft Employees (CHIME), the largest company-sponsored diversity group, with 2,500 members. "And I think Lu's joining Microsoft is definitely a huge encouragement, from a career-development perspective, for all the Chinese and Asian employees."

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Corporate culture , Personalities , Public policy & issues , Recruiting , Search , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 5, 2008 2:30 PM

Foley: Microsoft nabs Live Search distribution on Dell from Google

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Mary Jo Foley has a good scoop today on a distribution deal between Microsoft and Dell for Live Search. Currently, Google's search toolbar is preloaded on Dell PCs. Officials aren't commenting, but Foley cites unnamed sources familiar with the arrangement saying the two tech giants "have signed a deal via which Dell will be shipping new PCs with the Live Search toolbar preinstalled."

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December 4, 2008 3:52 PM

Yahoo: Lu a 'valued Yahoo'; company remains committed to search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With one of its top search executives now in the Microsoft fold, Yahoo is putting on a brave face. A statement from spokeswoman Kim Rubey reads:

"Qi Lu was a valued Yahoo who made important contributions during his time with us. We wish him every success in his career. Yahoo! remains committed to algorithmic and sponsored search, with a strong search technology team that includes some of the industry's brightest engineers."

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December 4, 2008 1:33 PM

Qi Lu, former Yahoo search exec, appointed president of Microsoft's Online Services business

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Meet the new boss: Former Yahoo Qi Lu to lead Microsoft Online Services Group.

Just announced: "Microsoft Corp. today announced that Dr. Qi Lu will join the company as president of the Online Services Group. Dr. Lu will lead Microsoft's efforts in search and online advertising and all the company's online information and communications services. Dr. Lu will report to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer."

Brian McAndrews, senior vice president of the Microsoft Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group, is leaving the company, Microsoft said in a statement.

Updates throughout at 1:59 p.m.

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , Online services , Search , Steve Ballmer , Strategy , Yahoo , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 4, 2008 10:19 AM

Former Yahoo search star to top job at Microsoft?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Is Microsoft acquiring Yahoo's search business one person at a time? It looks that way, if Kara Swisher is right about Qi Lu taking the top online spot at Microsoft. Lu spent 10 years at Yahoo rising to senior vice president of engineering for for search and search marketing.

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December 3, 2008 12:51 PM

Microsoft international strategy exec talks economy, netbooks, Windows 7 (beta due early Q1) and Yahoo

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Neil Holloway, vice president of business strategy for Microsoft International and a 19-year veteran, gave investors a broad view of the company's hottest topics at a conference this morning. A Webcast can be found here. What follows is a summary of his main points.

What customers are saying. A few messages are coming through clearly, Holloway said during the Nasdaq OMX Investor Conference. "Help me save money" and "help finance me either as a partner or as an end customer," he said.

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December 1, 2008 2:44 PM

Microsoft offering instant cashback to "eligible shoppers" on some eBay purchases

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

As Microsoft works to contain fallout from angry Live Search cashback shoppers who didn't get a promised 40 percent discount on some Hewlett-Packard purchases on Black Friday, the company said today it's tweaking the service.

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November 26, 2008 9:44 AM

Microsoft Internet search share stable in October; Fortune scrutinizes online business

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft held stead in October with 8.5 percent of the U.S. Internet search market, according to figures released today by comScore. Its rivals, Google and Yahoo, both gained slightly from their September positions.

Meanwhile, Fortune has taken a stab at answering the question, "Why can't Microsoft make money online?"

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November 13, 2008 12:08 PM

Microsoft doing better with commercial search than search in general

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft is touting the impact of its Live Search Cashback program, launched in May, on its share of the Internet search market. But the company has seen its third-place position in the broader U.S. search market steadily erode this year.

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November 10, 2008 9:37 AM

One-time Microsoft enemy Sun Microsystems to distribute Live Search toolbar

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Starting today, Sun Microsystems will distribute an MSN Toolbar, including a Microsoft Live Search box, to Internet Explorer users in the U.S. who download Sun's Java Runtime Environment, a necessary plug-in for viewing many Web pages.

The distribution deal is one of several Microsoft has struck this year to try to boost its share of the Internet search market, which has declined almost two percentage points to 8.5 percent in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Google's share of the U.S. search market, as measured by comScore, is about 63 percent.

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November 6, 2008 3:58 PM

Microsoft still not interested in acquiring Yahoo

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Despite Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's assertion that buying Yahoo is "the best thing for Microsoft to do," Microsoft doesn't see it that way.

A company spokesman told Bloomberg News today that there are no talks between the companies and that the official statement it issued on the matter in mid-October remains the official position. To review: "Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!; there are no discussions between the companies."

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October 29, 2008 10:33 AM

Updated: Microsoft's September U.S. search share

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Update, 2:42 p.m. Thursday: Turns out Bloomberg got its figures wrong, mistaking August numbers for July. So, where this post originally said Microsoft's Internet search share declined from August to September, it actually increased a bit.

Microsoft's share of the Internet search market in the U.S. declined again increased slightly in September, according to stats released today by comScore and reported here by Bloomberg.

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October 16, 2008 7:03 AM

AP: Microsoft unit Fast Search raided by Norwegian economic crime police

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In May, reported on an accounting probe into Fast Search and Transfer, the enterprise search company Microsoft acquired in January. Today, a report out of Norway says authorities raided Fast's Oslo headquarters on "suspicion that it inflated revenue before it was bought up by Microsoft."

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September 19, 2008 6:22 AM

Microsoft continues downward trend in August search share

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft again lost Internet search market share in August, according to figures released Thursday by comScore.

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September 11, 2008 8:12 AM

Microsoft, RIM working on Live Search for Blackberry

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft is working with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to put Live Search on the popular line of smartphones. The deal could help Microsoft in its struggle to gain market share for its Internet search engine.

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August 26, 2008 12:30 PM

Microsoft was top online display advertiser in June

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft was pushing its Live Search service, including its cashback program, in June, propelling the company to the top of the list of most active online advertisers, according to comScore.

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August 21, 2008 1:23 PM

Microsoft gave back modest Internet search gain in July

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

After seeing its U.S. Internet search market share increase slightly in June -- for the first time in 2008 -- Microsoft gave back some of the gains in July, according to figures from market research comScore.

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July 30, 2008 3:54 PM

Ballmer foreshadowed new look for Live Search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Today, Microsoft began rolling out a new look for its Live Search start page. The company is going away from the spartan search box on a mostly empty white page -- the design most-closely associated with Google's world-beating search engine -- in favor of a look that leaves room for it to highlight various features of its search and online services offerings. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last week that he was no fan of the blank start page.

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July 28, 2008 12:48 PM

Redefining Internet search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A regular refrain from Microsoft these days is that it's "early days" in Internet search. The status quo model -- 10 blue links on the left, paid-for ads on the right and the top -- "is ripe for innovation," CEO Steve Ballmer said at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting last week. Today, we see the launch of a new search engine that promises to disrupt the model. But it's not from Microsoft. Or Google.

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July 24, 2008 10:15 AM

FAM: Microsoft and Facebook in search deal

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft has inked a search distribution deal with social networking site Facebook.

Satya Nadella, senior vice president in charge of Microsoft's search, MSN and ad platform engineering efforts, said Microsoft "will be providing an API to Facebook where they will create a rich search experience, inclusive of Web search."

It will launch in the fall, and will include both Live Search results and Microsoft search advertising.

The company is positioning it as another effort to broaden awareness of its Live Search engine, which Nadella demonstrated at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting today.

Last August, Microsoft and Facebook inked a display advertising deal. In October, Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook for $240 million.

Update, 11:15 a.m.: The deal is U.S. only. It is apparently exclusive, as Microsoft will be providing search on Facebook's site, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. I've asked Facebook for confirmation that Microsoft will be, in fact, its exclusive U.S. search provider. Facebook has more than 90 million active users globally.

Upate, 11:23 a.m.: Facebook spokesman Matt Hicks said in an email: "We're not disclosing the terms of the search deal, but it is specifically for the U.S."

If it were exclusive, why wouldn't Microsoft and Facebook come out and say so definitively?

Update, 12:04 p.m.: Just got an update from Microsoft: The deal is exclusive to Microsoft for search in the U.S.

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July 18, 2008 11:42 AM

U.S. search market share trend reversed in June: Google down, Microsoft and Yahoo up

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Did anyone hear a cheer go up from RedWest just now? Microsoft's Internet search-market share had its first up-tick this year, according to just-released data from comScore.

The company's Live Search engine gained almost a percentage point of U.S. market share from May to June, though it still trails far behind Google.

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July 1, 2008 11:45 AM

Microsoft buying natural-language search company Powerset

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Reports have been circulating since last week that Microsoft was buying some horsepower in search. No, not Yahoo. The new purchase is Powerset, a company spokeswoman confirmed this morning.

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June 3, 2008 10:00 AM

Microsoft to direct 404 errors -- the Internet's dead ends -- to Live Search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In a sign that every search -- or would-be search -- counts, Microsoft today announced a plan to steer people who hit the Internet's dead ends toward its Live Search service. The company says it is equipping pages on its Internet domains that return a "404 - File Not Found" error message to redirect to its search engine, and helping Web publishers do the same.

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May 29, 2008 3:10 PM

Microsoft acquisition Fast Search is subject of criminal probe in Norway

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano is reporting today on an escalating probe into account irregularities at Fast Search & Transfer, which Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion.

Update, 4:55 p.m.: Microsoft is taking the matter seriously. See a statement added after the jump.

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May 22, 2008 9:57 AM

Google continued to grow search share lead in April

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

ComScore released its U.S. search engine rankings for April and the song remains the same: Google saw its share of the market increase 1.8 percentage points, smashing through the 60 percent barrier to 61.6 percent. Both Yahoo and Microsoft saw their slice of the pie again get smaller, declining to 20.4 and 9.1 percent, respectively.

The latest rankings come as Microsoft unveiled a new incentive program to undercut Google and change the Internet search advertising business model. The cashback program is also aimed at getting more people using its commerce search when shopping online.

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May 21, 2008 9:46 AM

Reactions to Microsoft's pay-for-search strategy

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The Microsoft Live Search cashback program, first reported by SearchEngineWatch Tuesday and described in this story today, is being promoted on the company's page now. Chairman Bill Gates is on stage at the company's advertising event now and will formally announce the effort, according to a press release.

The reaction online has been loud. Here's a sampling:

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April 11, 2008 8:45 AM

AOL reaches 42% of Russian Internet audience

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

We often focus on the U.S. metrics for Internet search share and Web site traffic. But there's a whole world out there. And in Russia, at least, AOL reaches more of the population than Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.

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March 26, 2008 3:17 PM

Yahoo, Microsoft search share declined in February, Nielsen reports

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Matching the trend reported last week in comScore's Internet search market share figures, Nielsen Online is out with its February report showing Google built on its enormous lead while Yahoo and Microsoft gave up ground.

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March 19, 2008 3:12 PM

Google, gained Internet search share as Microsoft, Yahoo slid in February

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In February, the total volume of U.S. Internet searches declined from a month earlier, as did the share of searches performed on Microsoft and Yahoo sites. Google's share increased, according to data just released by comScore.

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March 4, 2008 9:54 AM

Microsoft Research warns of competitive threats, not always heeded

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft has invited academics and journalists to its Redmond campus this morning for a preview of TechFest, the company's effort to transfer the technology developed in its huge basic research arm to the rest of the company.

Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, is giving an introductory talk. He's explaining the importance of Microsoft Research, which now has more than 800 Ph.D. computer scientists. One benefit of doing research that looks over the horizon is identifying new competitive threats.

"We're a great early warning system," he said. "We'll say something like, 'You know, this Internet search thing, it could be big some day.' People don't always listen to us."

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February 29, 2008 9:56 AM

ComScore says Google 'paid click' decline not actually bad news

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Earlier this week, news stories across the Internet and in every major business publication had Google on the rocks. A comScore report on paid clicks showed an 8 percent decline from December to January and flat annual growth. Google's shares tumbled $22.25 on the news Tuesday to close at $464.19, wiping $5.2 billion off the company's balance sheet. It was also viewed as another sign of the economic slowdown dragging on the lifeblood of Web 2.0, online advertising.

Today, comScore posted a blog explaining why that reaction misinterpreted the Internet measurement company's data, and behind the decline in paid clicks actually is a positive trend for Google.


While comScore isn't saying everything's rosy in the broader economy, the company is correcting the record, in some detail, on what's going on at Google:

"The evidence suggests that the softness in Google's paid click metrics is primarily a result of Google's own quality initiatives that result in a reduction in the number of paid listings and, therefore, the opportunity for paid clicks to occur. In addition, the reduction in the incidence of paid listings existed progressively throughout 2007 and was successfully offset by improved revenue per click. It is entirely possible, if not likely, that the improved revenue yield will continue to deliver strong revenue growth in the first quarter."

And in the broader economy?

"Separately, there is no evidence of a slowdown in consumers clicking on paid search ads for rest of the U.S. search market, which comprises 40% of all searches."

Not everyone is buying comScore's interpretation of its own data, however. At Silicon Alley Insider, Henry Blodget continues "to view the comScore report as supporting the theory that Google is exposed to economic weakness."

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February 26, 2008 6:00 AM

Openess another MSFT-YHOO synergy?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

"If you didn't realize it, Yahoo! is embracing openness like never before."

That's how the company put it in a blog post Monday announcing its new open Internet search effort, the Open Search Platform. Of course, last week, Microsoft, which would like to acquire Yahoo, announced that it is also embracing openness like never before. Shows how closely the companies are aligned, right?

Microsoft pledged to open communications protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs) for its biggest products to developers, with a few catches. The company didn't say whether that would extend to its struggling Internet search efforts, but some analysts I talked to saw the broader strategic shift toward openness as a potential boon for Microsoft's online services efforts.

Here's what Yahoo is saying about opening up its Internet search platform:

"This open search platform enables 3rd parties to build and present the next generation of search results. There are a number of layers and capabilities that we have built into the platform, but our intent is clear -- present users with richer, more useful search results so that they can complete their tasks more efficiently and get from 'to do' to 'done.' "

Details were sketchy on the blog post and Yahoo says it will elaborate over "the next few months."

The company wasn't shy about extolling the benefits, however, which will flow to Web site owners, big and small, who will be able to build plug-ins that, once enabled, will present more detailed information -- including reviews, images and deep links -- on Yahoo Search than on the competition. These enhanced results will help generate more traffic and please users with better information, according to the blog post from Vish Makhijani, senior vice president and general manager of Yahoo Search.

Meanwhile, outlets including Search Engine Watch, have more details and analysis:

Yahoo will not feature or promote plug-ins that include advertising, or that are not relevant to users. And publishers will never be able to pay for placement in the gallery or other promotion by Yahoo. "This is not a paid relationship; it's all about relevance," Amit Kumar, director of product management for Yahoo Search, told the Web site.

But will it be enough to help lift the company's market share in Internet search? In January, Yahoo's share declined 0.7 points from December to 22.2 percent of the nearly 10.5 billion Internet searches performed in the U.S. Google remained the leader by a long shot with 58.5 percent. Microsoft held on to third, it's market share unchanged at 9.8 percent.

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February 21, 2008 7:25 PM

U.S. search market share essentially unchanged in January

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Lost in the shuffle today -- though it wasn't a great loss -- were the January Internet search market share figures from comScore. None of the major search engines saw their market share change either way by more than a percentage point.

The biggest loser was Yahoo, whose share declined 0.7 points from December to 22.2 percent in January. Google remained the leader by a country mile with 58.5 percent of the nearly 10.5 billion Internet searches performed in the U.S. last year. Microsoft held on to third, it's market share unchanged at 9.8 percent.

Here's the full release.

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February 13, 2008 5:30 PM

Mary Jo Foley: Valentine's reorg coming to Microsoft Online Services?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

She's been right before, so when Mary Jo Foley's sources say a reorg is coming at Microsoft, listen up.

Foley caught wind of this at least more than a week ago. From the outlines she's reporting, the reorg, among other things, would consolidate more of the online services business under Satya Nadella, who has been in his new post for only 11 months.

Nadella came over from the business division to head research and development for a new group combining both Internet search and the advertising platform. His star seems to be rising, even if search still isn't faring all that well. I've heard from people in his organization that he's gained the respect of the engineers.

Changes also coming in Windows marketing, Foley reports, with Mike Sievert taking a bow.

What do you get for your valentine when he or she has just been ousted? Someone should start a Yahoo group for sweethearts of recently "impacted" tech workers. To be clear, however, there's no indication that the Microsoft Online Services reorg would involve the kind of wholesale job cuts that came down at Yahoo.

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February 1, 2008 8:05 AM

Microsoft's Kevin Johnson on proposed Yahoo acquisition

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, answered questions about integrating the two huge companies after Microsoft made a $31 per share offer for Yahoo this morning. Here is an edited transcript of my conversation with him:

Q: Why are you doing this and why is now the right time to do it?

A: Well first of all, this combined entity creates a more competitive company. It creates value for shareholders and it's going to enable us to enhance experiences for customers, whether they are end users, advertisers or publishers, and it creates great opportunities for the employees of both Microsoft and Yahoo.

At the end of the day, this is about creating a more compelling alternative to an increasingly dominant player in the industry.

Q: Does this essentially say that at this point Microsoft doesn't see itself as able to catch Google alone?

A: I'd go back to the Financial Analyst Meeting [in July 2007]. We outlined a value chain analysis and the taxonomy of user services and ad platform, and, look, we've been making good progress over this last year. We released the Windows Live Suite in November, a new release in Live Search last October. We successfully completed the first phase of integration with aQuantive. We've signed up new publishers to our ad platform. You know, look, we're pleased with the progress and we're very proud of the work that our employees have been driving in this area.

You know, the fact is that this is an industry where scale matters and by combining our resources with Yahoo, not only are we able to achieve scale economics, we're able to expand the R&D [research and development] capability, capture operational efficiencies and focus on new user experiences.

Q: Certainly one of the most important metrics for online advertising and success overall online is still search market share and I think it's fair to say both Microsoft and Yahoo have been steadily losing share against Google over the last year. On that front, what makes you think that combining two entities that are losing share is going to help against the one that's dominant and still gaining?

A: Well, there's two things. First, I'd point out, if you look at our share, I think we've been kind of holding share, and holding flat on share. The fact is this is a game of scale. By bringing the companies together we can create a more efficient operation and organization that scale enables us to eliminate duplicate capital costs, such as servers and data centers and infrastructure and by combining our R&D capability it allows us to have more engineers that focus on a broader range of products. Instead of having engineers both working on search indexes and core search relevance, we can have one team of engineers working on that and that frees up engineers to drive new innovations in search -- search verticals, new search user experiences. There's plenty of opportunity to drive breakthroughs in search.

Q: When I think about Yahoo, it's hard to think of something that they do that Microsoft doesn't also do in the area of online services. So what's your strategy going to be for combining those many overlapping services? Is it going to be a co-branding thing, or what do you see happening there?

A: First of all, through recent experiences with aQuantive and Tellme, we know how to do successful integration. And part of that successful integration is having clear, defined synergies we're working to get. A clear set of integration principles and then it's putting together a joint team of Microsoft leaders and Yahoo leaders who are going to work through a thoughtful integration process to make the decisions on how this lands. We're confident based on our recent success of integration with companies like aQuantive and Tellme that this process is the right process to yield great results.

Q: But aQuantive and Tellme had much less of an overlapping set of technologies or businesses they were in. It seemed like it was adding technology to what you guys were already doing whereas there are so many things that both MSN and Yahoo do that are essentially competitive and the same service. Will those go forward under the same name, or how do you see that part happening?

A: If you just take decisions around brands, you know, first of all, we've got a great set of brands, The Yahoo brand is a great brand and as part of this integration process, we're going to get leaders from Microsoft and Yahoo that are going to make thoughtful decisions, not only around the technology integration, but the user experiences and the brands. This is an opportunity to bring together the best of both worlds.

Q: Are you anticipating any layoffs at Microsoft or Yahoo as you combine the two companies?

A: A key part of this is the expanded R&D capacity. We're hiring engineers today and by combining resources with Yahoo this expands the R&D capability. This is an opportunity to get that expanded R&D capability and really prioritize what they're working on so that we can expand the range of innovation that's taking place.

Now, certainly, in combination with that, there are operational efficiencies that we will gain from this combination. And on the people front, much of the operational efficiencies certainly relate to the integration work where we've got to do a great job of getting the right people in the right jobs and making sure that we have the right amount of head count and resources, focused in the right areas.

I think we're confident, not only will we take advantage of this expanded engineering capability, but we'll be very thoughtful about the operational efficiencies that we can gain by getting the right people in the right jobs and the right amount of resources allocated to individual areas.

Q: What about combining the cultures of the two companies? Is that a big challenge too?

A: Our two companies share a common passion for innovation and creating opportunity and great user experiences through technology. And that passion for innovation is really at the core, and so together I think we're going to redefine how people and businesses think about information in the new age of the Internet and I think that common passion is really a glue that helps us bring the workforces together.

Q: What you've described is a complicated and extensive integration process. What's your best-case scenario for how long it takes after approval is granted?

A: Certainly, we're going to go through the integration planning process with the joint team of Microsoft and Yahoo, make thoughtful decisions about that. Some of the thoughtful decisions that will be made is sort of the timing of when and how things are sequenced.

But, you know, clearly we've got a certain set of integration activities that would happen on day one of closing and then certainly over some period following that. We're going to work through the set of things that get implemented to bring resources together.

Q: Do you face a risk here of spending so much focus on integrating the two companies that you don't get quickly to some of the benefits you've talked about?

A: Certainly, there is some -- you know, you look at scale economics. Combining our search inventory on the same ad platform, that's going to deliver better yield or better revenue very quickly. So there's certain synergies that will happen very quickly. he fact that on our integration plan, we've got to work to get to a single search index, a single ad platform. And by doing that, that means that we have one team of engineers working on that instead of two.

That enables us to now prioritize engineering work on new emerging scenarios such as video, mobile services, social media, social platforms. And so, I think there's a set of things that we can get immediately and as we deploy engineering resources on the broad set of priorities, there's things that will also be driven long-term.

Q: How big of a risk do you think you face from antitrust regulation on this?

A: We've worked closely with our legal counsel and we are confident we can obtain all necessary approvals in a timely manner. And we'd expect to close within the second half of this calendar year.

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January 31, 2008 11:04 AM

Microsoft ad boss McAndrews: search ads get too much credit

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

While at aQuantive, it was Brian McAndrews practice to send out an annual message looking back at the past year and looking forward to what's coming. He seems to be continuing that tradition at Microsoft as the senior vice president of the new Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group.

McAndrews echoed some themes I'd been hearing from people working in his group late last year. Of particular interest are his comments on Internet search, an area where Microsoft continues to trail Google. Search ads get too much credit, he says, and not enough credit goes to the other forms of advertising that may convince consumers to finally search for a product and click on the ad. Microsoft intends to change that.

McAndrews says search ads get more than their share of credit.

"While search has been the main driver of the blistering growth of online advertising in the past, at least partially because of the 'last ad clicked' performance measurement standard (pioneered by Atlas in the late 90s), we do not believe this will necessarily be the case in the coming years. The current system for tracking ad conversions, while the best available for years, is not optimal because it gives all credit to that last ad seen or clicked -- often a search engine -- and not any credit to other ad units the consumer may have seen prior that helped influence the user to seek more information about the advertiser. Thus, Search has gotten more than its share of the credit, but that's starting to change. We'll be making significant inroads here in 2008 through our continuing ground-breaking work in the area of 'conversion attribution,' a new Atlas technology offering that will do a better job of 'giving credit where credit is due.'

"That said, we're not discounting the importance of Search as it continues to drive a lion's share of digital advertising budgets. Our goal is to help advertisers and agencies make their Search campaigns as relevant, targeted and highly converting as possible. We've made great strides toward this end, and will continue to make deep investments in both our Live Search engine and Microsoft adCenter to improve the value of our Search offerings for customers."

McAndrews goes on to discuss emerging digital ad formats, which are attracting more spending and would presumably be viewed as more valuable if Microsoft can successful push better "conversion attribution." These areas include:

-- Online video advertising, "expected to be the fastest growing ad category on the web for the foreseeable future."

-- In-game advertising, an emerging area that Microsoft entered whole-hog with the purchase of the Massive Network. But growth forecasts were ridiculed late last year by EA's chief executive officer. I'm looking forward to hearing from game makers on this issue at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next month.

-- Mobile advertising, "nascent" but with "huge potential," McAndrews wrote. "Here you'll see us invest in our Atlas toolset, working very closely with our subsidiary ScreenTonic and our colleagues in Windows Mobile, to make significant progress with new mobile advertiser and publisher tools, mobile syndication, and new advertising clients."

Comments | Category: Advertising , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 23, 2008 1:15 PM

Searches in December declined, market share stays the same

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

ComScore released its monthly market share data for the leading Internet search engines in December, providing yet one more view of the battle among Google, Microsoft and Yahoo at year's end.

One interesting note, according to comScore's figures, Americans performed 3.9 percent fewer Internet searches in December (9.64 billion) than they did in November (10.03 billion).

In the core search category:
-- Google's market share stood at 58.4 percent in December, down 0.2 percent from November.
-- Yahoo saw a modest increase of 0.5 percent to 22.9 percent in December.
-- Microsoft was flat at 9.8 percent.

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 22, 2008 11:28 AM

LiveSide analyzes a year's worth of search numbers

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

As a follow up to a post here on Friday about an apparent turn in December U.S. search market share (according to Nielsen Online, Google's share was down and Microsoft's was up) check out the work Kip Kniskern of has done comparing a full year's worth of data from three major market-share tracking companies.

He's got some nice charts and graphs, depicting the differences in search market share numbers for Google, Yahoo, MSN/Live Search and as reported by Nielsen, Hitwise and Compete. Nielsen, Kniskern found, reported a bump in Microsoft's share starting in May 2007 that the other two missed. In general, Yahoo's share has been trending down, but the decline is less pronounced in Hitwise's figures.

"Really, if anything, the numbers for each of the [search engines] could be said to have remained fairly flat in their share of searches over the past year," Kniskern wrote.

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 18, 2008 5:21 PM

Microsoft gains, Google falls in December search results

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Break out the champagne in RedWest.

For the first time in recent memory, a chink emerged -- albeit small and perhaps temporary -- in Google's armor. It's U.S. search share declined slightly from 57.7 percent in November to 56.3 percent December, according to numbers released today by Nielsen Online. Here's a blog post on the November report.

In the same period, Microsoft got a boost with its MSN/Live Search going from about 12 percent of U.S. searches in November to 13.8 percent in December, which is where it stood in October.

Yahoo was essentially unchanged at 17.7 percent in December, compared with 17.9 percent in November.

Microsoft also saw the "stickiness" of its search engine improve.

Continue reading this post ...

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January 8, 2008 9:25 AM

Microsoft buying business search power for $1.2 billion

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The company's biggest news so far this week came from Norway, not Las Vegas.

It announced this morning, really early, that it's offering $1.2 billion for Fast Search & Transfer, a business search provider. That's a 42 percent premium over the company's recent share price. The deal looks like it will breeze through, with two major institutional shareholders that control more than a third of Fast Search already agreeing to the terms. The company's board of directors has also given it the nod. Microsoft expects the deal to close in the second quarter.

Microsoft Business Division Pressident Jeff Raikes sees business search as a key area for Microsoft to build on advantages it holds through other business software.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Enterprise , Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 3, 2008 10:23 AM

InfoSpace cuts from top to thin operations

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Bellevue-based InfoSpace, which has been shedding business segments for the last year, announced today it was cutting $7 million to $9 million in expenses and laying off some employees.

Some of the bigger cuts are coming from the top, where five executives have been let go. In total, up to 40 positions are being eliminated, leaving 170 employees at the company, according to spokeswoman Stacy Ybarra.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Search , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 27, 2007 2:00 PM

Microsoft search share dropping, Nielsen reports

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft corralled only 881 million searches in November, about 12 percent of the U.S. total, according to the latest figures from Nielsen Online. That's down from 13.8 percent in October. Yahoo held on to second place, though its slice of the pie -- 17.9 percent -- was thinner than its share of 18.8 percent in October. Google, meanwhile, climbed to 57.7 percent.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 12, 2007 9:34 AM

Live Search, mapping to benefit from latest Microsoft acquisition

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft this morning announced the purchase of Multimap, a U.K. company that describes itself as "one of the world's leading providers of online mapping and location-based services. Our company delivers more online maps, point-to-point driving directions and geo-spatial ("where's my nearest?") searches to more businesses and consumers than any other supplier in Europe."

As usual, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Multimap will operate as a subsidiary of Microsoft's Online Services Group.

In addition to linking up with a host of predictable Microsoft products (Live Search, Virtual Earth) the company sees "future integration potential for a range of other Microsoft products and platforms."

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 11, 2007 10:43 AM

InfoSpace extends Yahoo search agreement

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Bellevue-based InfoSpace said today that it has extended its multi-year agreement with Yahoo, allowing the Bellevue-based company to include Yahoo's search results as part of its metasearch technology.

InfoSpace will not only be able to continue delivering Web search results, but also text-based advertising listings from Yahoo. The technology involves the whole portfolio of InfoSpace sites, including Dogpile, WebCrawler, MetaCrawler, and private-label services.

Metasearch technology means it can prioritize from various search engine's algorithm types.

This is a important win for a company that over the past year has decided to sell off its mobile properties and focus solely on its Internet search business.

In October, the company sold its mobile infrastructure business to Motricity for $135 million. In September, it sold to Idearc of Dallas for $225 million in cash; and it's on track to pay out $300 million in dividends to shareholders early next year.

"Extending our partnership with Yahoo demonstrates our continued commitment to deliver the most powerful metasearch experience," said Jim Voelker, chairman and CEO of InfoSpace. "Today's consumers want to be assured they are getting the most comprehensive and relevant results, and we go a step further by bringing them together in one place."

Comments | Category: Search , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 10, 2007 1:09 PM

Is Google un-American?

Posted by Kristi Heim

So most of the searching done on the Internet is not in North America, as pointed out in the previous post. More people in Asia and Europe are searching the Web than people here, and guess what their favorite tool is? Google.

But hey, don't get any wild ideas, you UN-supporting, Rick Steves guidebook-toting left-coasters. Google's main office is on American soil. And now they've taken to dressing up their logo with pictures of a Soviet satellite. Ungrateful commies!

Watch out, Sergey. Once they find out you were born in Moscow, they might just try to send you back.

UPDATE: Well, today the folks at Google have for replaced the "l" with a sketch of the late Luciano Pavarotti, who was born on this day in 1935. Wait, wasn't he Italian?

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October 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Google search more dominant globally

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

ComScore today released its first report on global search market share, showing Google's lead worldwide is even bigger than in the United States.

Most of the widely reported Internet search metrics measure just the U.S. or North American markets. As the comScore report indicates, that misses the majority of the world's Internet searches. Broken down by region, the Asia-Pacific region in August had the most searchers (258 million) and searches (20.3 billion), followed by Europe, North America, Latin America and the Middle East-Africa. Latin Americans conducted the most searches per capita (95).

Worldwide, the comScore report found "that more than 750 million people age 15 and older -- or 95 percent of the worldwide Internet audience -- conducted 61 billion searches worldwide in August, an average of more than 80 searches per searcher."

Google sites -- mainly the company's search engine and video site YouTube -- were responsible for about 37.1 billion of the August searches, 60.8 percent. During the same month, Google sites had 56.5 percent of the U.S. search market.

Yahoo sites had 14 percent. Chinese-language search engine was third globally with 5.3 percent.

Microsoft sites came in fourth with 3.5 percent. The company is struggling to improve its search share with a series of improvements to be released gradually this month.

Comments | Category: Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine







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